Australia's insulation industry has joined the calls for stronger measures to be adopted to help reduce emissions in the Australian building sector.
Australia had committed to a transition to zero net emissions by 2050 at the Paris Climate Change conference in April this year. With the national building sector currently contributing about a quarter of Australia's national greenhouse gas emissions, the industry presents significant opportunities for emissions reductions.
Insulation Australasia, which represents Australian and New Zealand insulation manufacturers, fabricators and installers, is a member of the Energy Efficiency and Emissions Task Group established by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) to develop a national plan to achieve net zero emissions across the building sector.
A new report titled Low Carbon, High Performance authored by ClimateWorks Australia and released recently by ASBEC, reveals how Australia's building sector can deliver up to 28 per cent of Australia's emissions reduction target and save $20 billion by 2030, creating healthier, more productive cities using a suite of targeted policies. Strong action in buildings is therefore essential for Australia to meet its international obligations for zero net emissions under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Insulation Australasia Chair Scott Gibson says the report clearly outlines a policy roadmap to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. He explains that the building sector can reduce emissions instantly by more than half by introducing higher levels of energy efficiency and an 'envelope first' path to net zero, which begins with improved envelope insulation and glazing. The gap to net zero building emissions can be bridged through optimisation of services and appliances, coupled with the decarbonisation of the grid via renewable energy.
According to Gibson, the technology is already there and in use but strong policies and urgent action by Federal, State and Territory governments are critical to addressing existing barriers and accelerating outcomes. Underlining the need to establish a national plan, he said it was important to set strong mandatory minimum standards, create targeted incentives, reform the energy market, ensure available data is more readily accessible, and further expand research and education measures.
Gibson observes that just five years of delay in implementing the opportunities in buildings could lead to $24 billion in wasted energy costs and over 170 megatonnes of lost emissions reduction opportunities by 2050. Given that Australia's thermal performance requirements are low compared to Europe, there's an opportunity to improve these for implementation in updates planned for the National Construction Code for introduction in 2019.