Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering


The building and construction industry in most countries is facing increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and related adverse effects. Buildings consume 40% of the primary energy produced, mostly during the occupancy phase. It is possible to mitigate this impact by accelerating the uptake of upgrades, but increasingly stringent building regulations and voluntary initiatives have not been sufficient to replace obsolete buildings with more efficient ones. Upgraded buildings can save energy, reduce GHG emissions, and improve the quality of the built environment.

A review of the specialised literature on building performance identified a focus on new, high-rise and multi-family buildings. This highlights a lack of studies of smaller commercial buildings, which represent a significant proportion of the overall stock. In the US, for instance, buildings with areas less than 50,000 square feet (approximately 4,650 m2) represent up to 90% of the building stock.

There is a particular gap in knowledge about how to assess the performance of commercial buildings with an area less than 1,000 m2 in regional centres. These buildings differ from the typically more modern high-rise commercial buildings in large cities. This may be related to the fact that, in Australia at least, buildings with an area less than 1,000 m2 are below the threshold for mandatory disclosure of building performance, while most certification schemes and mandatory disclosure tools target larger buildings such as offices, educational buildings and hospitals. This research targets the buildings below this mandatory disclosure threshold, here referred to as ‘small commercial and retail buildings’ (SCRB). Since these buildings are a significant part of the building stock in regional centres, upgrading them would be beneficial for their stakeholders. This thesis has been undertaken with the overall aim of understanding the upgrading dynamics in the SCRB sector in regional centres and identifying potential strategies to increase upgrades.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.