The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) reports a huge potential for the built environment sector to reduce emissions and achieve massive savings as the nation transitions to a low-carbon economy.

Developed by Climate Works Australia, ASBEC’s new report, Low Carbon, High Performance finds Australia’s built environment sector can reach zero carbon by 2050, deliver healthier, more productive cities, and save $20 billion using technologies available today.

According to the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), the report provides a roadmap to drive the transition to a zero carbon building sector and improve the living and working environment of all Australians.

Romilly Madew, Chief Executive Officer of the GBCA and Deputy President of ASBEC said that Australia had made a binding commitment at the time of signing the Paris Agreement to develop decarbonisation strategies that would help meet the net zero targets by 2050.

Buildings are responsible for 23 per cent of Australia’s national carbon footprint, placing them at the frontline of any emissions reduction strategy. Australia’s green building leadership in the world is already established with more than 1,000 low-carbon, Green Star-rated buildings around the country.

For instance, Lendlease is working on carbon zero communities, such as in Barangaroo South in Sydney; Stockland has reduced the emissions intensity of its office portfolio by 50 per cent over the last decade; Mirvac has slashed its energy bills by $29 million since 2009; and Frasers Property Australia has 1.3 million sqm of Green Star-certified space. However, while these leaders have already shown that step change is possible, a large slice of the market continues to lag behind, Madew suggests. The focus, says Madew, should therefore be on removing the barriers preventing the rest of the market from taking action.

Underlining the urgency of the mission,  Madew said a delay of just five years could lead to more than 170 megatonnes of lost emission-reduction opportunities, and $24 billion in wasted energy expenditure. This is equivalent to emissions from almost 36 million passenger vehicles driven for a year, or the electricity required to power 23 million homes. Business-as-usual energy use will only lead to Australia expending its carbon budget in 13 years; however, this can be extended to 19 years by implementing the recommendations from the ASBEC report.

Madew adds that Australia has the technology, the skills and the knowledge to halve emissions from buildings, while also boosting the productivity, health and wellbeing of the people who live, learn, work and play in them.

Download ASBEC’s Media Release
Read ASBEC’s Low carbon, High Performance Summary report
Read ASBEC’s Low carbon, High Performance Full report