Adaptation to climate change and mitigation of the rising costs of electricity are key incentives for improving building energy efficiency. The need is particularly acute in remote communities in Far North Queensland and Central Australia. Electricity is expensive, incomes are relatively low and maintenance services are difficult to access. At the same time buildings have to provide an environment that is safe and productive while coping with extremely challenging climates. We report eight case studies that investigated community buildings and their associated electricity consumption, temperatures and relative humidities over a nine month period. The study focused on two building construction types: i) concrete block and ii) steel frame, in the hot arid and hot humid climate zones of northern Australia. Key findings are described relating to i) improving building thermal efficiency, ii) reducing the electricity consumption by appliances, particularly standby consumption, iii) the potential for adapting the energy efficiency rating tool AccuRate for use in remote communities in arid and tropical northern Australia.