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Property owners make net-zero pledge

Australia’s leaders may have pronounced last rites over the National Energy Guarantee and downgraded the Paris Agreement from a firm commitment to a vague aspiration. But Australia could still make real strides in sustainability if the country’s major property owners have anything to do with it.

A veritable sustainability stampede is now taking place, with GPT Wholesale Office Fund and Frasers Property Australia the latest big asset owners to publicly set net-zero targets. GPT’s goal is perhaps the most ambitious yet: net zero carbon emissions across its portfolio of 18 buildings in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by the end of 2020.

Just days later Frasers signed the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, a global initiative launched by the World Green Building Council. To fulfil its pledge, the company must ensure that every new building it creates operates at net-zero carbon by 2030, and all existing buildings must meet the same target by 2050. The AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund, City of Sydney, Cundall and Stockland have also signed the Commitment.

Mirvac, meanwhile, announced its sustainability strategy back in 2014 and is still committed to becoming net positive with zero waste by 2030.

Speaking at AIRAH’s Future of HVAC Conference, Bruce Precious from Six Capitals Consulting noted the positive impact that the top end of town could have – and the optimism that this generates.

“There’s nothing more important today than taking immediate action on climate change,” he says. “So I’m very encouraged to see property owners setting targets and recognising that we’re not waiting for technology. We know how we can create efficient buildings that run on renewable energy – it’s that simple and we can do it tomorrow.”

Precious admits that lower tier properties are still an issue, but that the new energy efficiency standards in Section J of the National Construction Code – to be released next year – would help.

“We’re not going to turn the laggards into leaders,” he says. “But with regulation we can bring them up to standard.”

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