Zero emissions, smarter cities and affordable housing are some of the focus areas outlined by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) in their policy platform announced recently.

Ahead of this year’s federal election, the GBCA has called for all parties to endorse measures to elevate sustainability in the delivery and design of buildings, communities and cities.

The GBCA advocates on behalf of more than 600 member organisations committed to the sustainable transformation of our cities and communities, and include small businesses to ASX-listed companies as well as local governments, state departments and universities.

GBCA head of public affairs and membership, Jonathan Cartledge said, “A liveable and sustainable built environment is not only essential to Australia’s economic prosperity but also plays a major role in reducing our carbon emissions, raising productivity and improving the health and wellbeing of citizens.

“Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings is one of the most efficient, cost effective ways to reduce emissions at scale and help with meeting our international obligations.”

The GBCA’s five priority policy areas are:

  • Lifting the energy efficiency standards for buildings in the National Construction Code, creating policies for emissions reductions in the mid-tier office building sector, and leveraging the GBCA’s Carbon Positive Roadmap to establish a vision for a zero emissions built environment by 2050;
  • Providing industry with the policy and regulatory certainty to support cost-effective energy efficiency measures, design and construction practices;
  • Implementing evidence-based urban, land and infrastructure planning and maximise the potential of City Deals;
  • Incentivising healthier, more productive and sustainable social infrastructure;
  • Creating a national strategy for affordable and sustainable housing that uses best practice design and construction.

Observing that Australia was a showcase for world-leading examples of sustainable buildings and communities that provide extraordinary opportunities to scale-up with supporting policy, Cartledge says the country needed to do more of it. The policies would help Australians realise the benefits of sustainability more widely, he noted.

According to Cartledge, these policies are about securing multiplier benefits across Australian communities to protect and enhance the quality of life at a time of growth and change.

“The research is clear that alongside productivity benefits, there are real hip pocket savings to be made from seeing more of our buildings and communities become more sustainable with a far lighter carbon footprint,” he says.

Green Star-certified buildings produce 62 per cent lesser greenhouse gas emissions, and use only one third of the electricity requirements of an average equivalent building, and half the potable water of the minimum standard. In addition to benefiting the occupants of such buildings, these efficiencies positively impact the wider community through a better use of resources.

“The public recognises the positive outcomes of green buildings, sustainable infrastructure and better planned communities. It’s time to get the policy settings right to encourage these benefits across the country,” Cartledge added.