City of Sydney Council has confirmed it will introduce net-zero building requirements, in a bid to meet minimal energy ratings by 2023 and net-zero energy consumption by 2026.

An Australian-first, the new energy efficiency and renewable energy objectives will ensure all new buildings form part of the city’s long term goals. It is estimated that the decision will save investors, companies and tenants approximately $1.3 billion in energy costs between 2023 and 2040, with $2,750 per 1,000 sqm saved yearly and $170 per hotel room also saved annually.

“Commercial office space, hotels and apartment buildings contribute 68% of total emissions in the City. If we’re to meet our target of net-zero emissions by 2035, we need the building sector to play its part,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says.

“These new controls, four years in the making, require developers to reduce emissions through increased energy efficiency, on-site renewable energy production and offsite renewable energy procurement. They are ambitious but achievable and provide a clear pathway for developers to improve energy performance and transition to net zero buildings.

“Working with our major developers and building owners to address the climate crisis could not be more important. Not only will this program help us reach our target of net-zero emissions by 2035, it will provide energy savings of more than $1.3 billion for investors, businesses and occupants across Greater Sydney,” says Moore.

New planning controls adopted by the council will combine energy efficiency and the use of onsite and offsite renewables to move buildings towards net zero energy use.

Urban Planner and Deputy Chair Councillor HY William Chan raised the regulation changes at a recent council meeting. Chan believes the incorporation of offsite renewable energy purchases is a historic first for local planning controls in Australia, as is the inclusion of energy efficiency and renewable energy targets.

“It’s critical that our built environment drives the transition to net-zero emissions. These pioneering green building performance standards were developed with extensive collaboration and support from developers, investors, industry bodies and government agencies,” Chan says.

“It will set a precedent for other local governments in the state and nationally to adopt the performance criteria and evidence base in their own planning assessments. We can only overcome the climate crisis with a coordinated, whole-of-sector approach by sharing information, expertise and experiences within sustainable urban development.”

The likes of Stockland, Frasers, Lendlease, Crown Group, Dexus and Mirvac have all endorsed the proposed development standards and wrote to council in favour of the decision. Lendlease Head of Sustainability, Ann Austin, says the company is backing City of Sydney to the hilt as it looks to reach net-zero by 2035.

“Sustainability in development has always been a strategic priority for Lendlease. We’ve now set ourselves the most ambitious environmental sustainability targets across the entire real estate industry, of net zero carbon by 2025 for scopes 1 and 2 and absolute zero by 2040,” she says.