Buildings the key to Australia’s net zero target

A new joint report by the Property Council of Australia and the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) sets out a suite of property-focused policy recommendations to help Australia achieve its decarbonisation goals.

Every Building Counts 2.0 is a revision of the roadmap originally launched in 2019, and updates the original eight key policy recommendations to shape a “greener, healthier, and more equitable built environment”.

  • Set out a long-term strategy for zero-carbon-ready buildings
  • Require all new residential and commercial buildings to operate on high-quality electric equipment in the National Construction Code 2025
  • Accelerate the shift to high-performance buildings with targeted incentives
  • Deliver an accelerated trajectory for resilient, all-electric, zero-carbon buildings in the building code
  • Embed the “energy efficiency first” principle in the National Electricity Objective and other relevant legislation, statements and policies
  • Commit zero-carbon-ready for all new and existing government owned and leased buildings by 2030
  • Expand NABERS to cover all building types and extend the CBD program; and empower owners, buyers and renters with a single national rating for home energy performance
  • Adopt a credible national framework for measuring embodied carbon.

Property Council Chief Executive Mike Zorbas says the report encourages political leaders to look for emissions reduction opportunities across all sectors of the economy.

“Buildings account for more than 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity use and 25 per cent of all emissions,” Zorbas says.

“The Australian property sector are global leaders in sustainability, which means we are incredibly well positioned to deliver high-impact and yet cost-effective ways to help achieve the nation’s net zero goals.

“All we need is the right policy settings to guide that effort. Smart policies should be front and centre for decision-makers seeking to reduce Australia’s emissions,” he says.

According to the GBCA, the name of the report says it all.

“A massive $20 billion in savings and 64 million metric tonnes of avoided carbon emissions can be achieved if we develop a national, consistent plan to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings,” the GBCA says.

“Another $49 billion in savings and 199 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions are up for grabs through electrification.

“These headline numbers illustrate the huge opportunity for the built environment to drive the net zero transition.

“This message is not new. When we launched Every Building Counts with the Property Council in October 2019 it was the first practical plan for emissions reduction in the built environment.

“The report outlined 75 recommendations for all three tiers of government. At the time, Australia had signed the Paris Agreement but didn’t have a clear emissions reduction target or a pathway to net zero by 2050. We now do.

“We also have billions pouring into everything from grid decarbonisation to green skills development. But buildings remain responsible for almost a quarter of Australia’s carbon emissions and half of our electricity use.

“With a progressive federal government that wants to lead change, the natural next step is a positive plan for property. Every Building Counts is that positive plan.”

Explore and download the report at the Every Building Counts website.

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