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Making your business more sustainable

Businesses in the City of Whittlesea can now access a long-term, low interest loan, for projects that help them save money and improve their economic and environmental performance via an Environmental Upgrade Agreement.

What is an Environmental Upgrade Agreement?

An Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) lets you, as building owners, access financing (Building Upgrade Finance) to specifically fund environmental building upgrades. Achieved through a partnership with the Sustainable Australia Fund, an EUA allows you to access funds, with the repayments administered by Council. Financing options are available to help you access environmental upgrades including:

  • Solar panels
  • Energy efficient lighting
  • Improved heating and cooling (HVAC) equipment
  • Water efficiency and waste water management
  • Electric vehicle charging stations

Key features that make it different to traditional finance are:

  • Low interest, quarterly repayments made via a local council charge.
  • Up to 100% project finance, including hard and soft costs.
  • Loan terms can extend from 5 to 20 years to maximise business cashflow.
  • Loans are tied to the property and building, not the business owner, making them easily transferable if the building is sold.
  • Landlords can split repayments with tenants, with both parties benefiting from the upgrade.
  • No requirement for personal, business, or other forms of security to be provided.



Interested in a loan to help you with an environmental improvement?

To qualify, applicants need to meet the eligibility criteria listed below as well as any credit criteria set by the lender:

  • The upgrade is to existing buildings, located on rateable land within the council boundaries.
  • The upgrade project has a measurable environmental benefit, such as energy, water or waste, or addresses other sustainability or climate change issues.
  • The property must be predominantly non-residential (such as commercial or industrial) and not be owned by a self-managed superannuation fund.
  • The property and/or property owner is not in the business of fossil fuels, live animal export, intensive farming, gambling, tobacco, or the arms industry.
  • The business and property must be up to date on all rates and charges due to Council.

Contact Council's Sustainability team by email at or visit the Sustainable Australia Fund website for more information.

How to apply

As part of the application process the applicant will need to:

  1. Provide details about the upgrade project and the business that is pursuing the project.
  2. Provide property ownership information, ABN/ACN if applicable, and authorised signatories.
  3. Provide information about mortgages, loans or leases that are secured against the property.
  4. Finally upload the following documents:
  • Project proposal (from the contractor or installer).
  • Council rates notice.
  • Copy of property owner’s ID.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s a secure way of paying for sustainability improvements to your building.

Building Upgrade Finance (sometimes called Environmental Upgrade Finance) is a simple loan used to pay for works that improve the energy, water or environmental efficiency and overall sustainability of the building. The loan is then repaid alongside the council rates over an agreed time period.

Once a building owner has completed an application form and provided the correct documentation, an agreement is drawn up between the lender (providing the finance), the building owner (carrying out the sustainability upgrades) and the council (who raise a charge on the land, under the Local Government Act, and then send out quarterly repayment notices alongside the council rates notices until the amount is repaid). The council passes those repayments back to the lender, noting repayments made against the total amount.

Better Building Finance now has an online Billing Platform that can process all repayment notices, repayments, track accounts and track sustainability benefits for the lifetime of the loan, all at no charge to the council and with proper third-party accredited governance.

The finance can be used for a wide range of projects including installing renewable energy systems, initiatives to improve energy and water efficiency, or projects that minimise waste – there just needs to be a measurable improvement in sustainability over time.

Examples of projects that have been funded
• Solar systems, solar PV (photovoltaic) panels and battery solutions
• Energy efficiency upgrades
• Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
• Lighting technology and control upgrades
• Green and cool roof installations
• Water efficiency and treatment systems
• Waste management
• Electric vehicle charging stations
• Heritage upgrades (South Australia only)

There are a number of key differences:
• No other finance options provide loans for up to 20 years with low interest rates and predictable quarterly payments
• The loan can be passed on to the new owner if the building is sold before the loan is fully repaid
• The benefits and the repayments can be shared with tenants, unlike other capital works restrictions
• Works must have a measurable environmental benefit

Yes, there are examples of projects with funding from $15,000 to over $24 million.

Yes, over 115 projects across Australia have used this form of finance to access over $40 million in funding to date, with more businesses accessing the finance each month. This same finance mechanism in the USA has seen over USD$8.5 billion allocated to over 285,000 projects over the past decade.

Under current legislation Building Upgrade Finance is available for most buildings used for non-residential purposes such as commercial offices, retail, industrial, manufacturing, agriculture and hospitality premises. With changes to the legislation, Building Upgrade Finance could become available for residential and strata projects.

An agreement will be drawn up between you, the local council, and the lender. Once the loan has been used to pay for the solar installation, the council will take repayments over the term of the agreement alongside the usual rates paid each quarter. You’ll benefit from the reduced power bills, increased asset value and sustainability outcomes, as well as the long-term low interest loan.

Quite simply, it’s a way of accessing affordable finance to make sustainability upgrades, improve efficiency and reduce bills, with long term repayment options that meet businesses’ cashflow requirements through low interest rates and predictable payments. And the benefits and the repayments can be shared with tenants, unlike other capital works restrictions. Whilst interest rates may be different to banks or other lenders variable rates, the long-term nature of the loans allow lenders to offer extended, more consistent terms that others can’t, that fit with longer term budgeting, reducing the size of quarterly payments.

Benefits of Building Upgrade Finance include:

  • 100% project finance for private (rateable) building owners’ environmental upgrades
  • Long-term loan repayment terms (4-20 years) can enable cash-flow positive projects
  • The loan is tied to the building, not the owner, and can be passed from vendor to purchaser when the property is sold
  • Tenants (building occupiers) can also benefit from BUF with significantly reduced utility costs or building performance, with the option to pass repayments through to tenants where their benefits can be quantified and measured.

The Building Upgrade Finance funds come from the private sector, where financial institutions such as Credit Suisse can finance these projects. The Better Building Finance organisation works closely with the Sustainable Australia Fund to provide the funding for projects. As an open market solution supported by ARENA to help expand the market, we encourage other lenders to participate.

No, building owners pay a small quarterly administration fee that’s based on the size of the loan – so smaller upgrades pay smaller administration fees – as well as an application and processing fee at the beginning of the agreement. Projects under $50,000 in value do not pay any processing fee at all.

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