The federal government have announced plans to expand the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) to include buildings, precincts and cities.

Introduced in 2010 to recognise carbon neutral businesses, products, services and events, the NCOS  provides a guide for businesses and other organisations voluntarily seeking to be carbon neutral. The Standard sets out requirements for achieving carbon neutrality, based on a framework that is based on relevant international standards and tailored to the Australian context.

As part of the NCOS, certified organisations reduce their emissions through using renewable energy and lowering energy use through energy efficiency measures or reducing waste and increasing recycling.

They offset the remaining emissions through the purchase of abatement units, such as for native vegetation restoration.

Now the NCOS will encompass buildings, precincts and cities, and the federal government hopes to have the first officially certified and operating carbon neutral precinct or city by January 2017.

To do so the government is establishing an Expert Committee for carbon neutral precincts and cities which is planned for April 2016 and will include representatives from big cities, Barangaroo Delivery Authority, the Green Building Council of Australia, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System and the CRC for Low Carbon Living.

GBCA welcomes decision to expand NCOS; says it’s time to deliver zero-carbon buildings and precincts

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has welcomed the Turnbull Government’s decision to expand the National Carbon Offset Standard.

According to GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, Australian cities are responsible for as much as 80 per cent of national energy consumption, which means they are at the frontline of any efforts to tackle climate change. With more than 1,050 Green Star projects under its belt, Australia has claimed the title of the world’s greenest property sector for five years running, according to the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark.

Madew says Australia’s property and construction industry is responsible for delivering the building blocks of cities, from individual buildings to entire communities. However, to meet Australia’s emissions reduction targets and international commitments to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, the industry must be encouraged and empowered to deliver more sustainable development.

Madew suggests it’s time for the industry to move from delivering low-carbon buildings to delivering zero-carbon buildings and precincts. Expanding the NCOS will allow Australia’s property industry to be recognised for creating and operating carbon neutral buildings, precincts and entire cities.

The GBCA says they’re looking forward to collaborating with the Australian Government and other key stakeholder groups to ensure the carbon neutral standard gives the property and construction industry the tools and recognition it needs to work towards a low-carbon future.