The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is part of an international campaign led by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) to deliver on the objectives of the Paris Agreement and tackle climate change.

The Advancing Net Zero project will see the green building councils of countries with a thriving construction industry launch national ‘net zero’ building certification and training programs. The GBCA joins GBCs from Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Netherlands, South Africa and Sweden, and various not-for-profit organisations in making a commitment to national net zero or carbon zero certification.

According to GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, the pledge to ensure that global warming remained below the critical two degrees Celsius mark must be followed with real-world action. She observed that the Australian built environment presented some of the cheapest and fastest opportunities to reduce emissions using proven and readily-available technologies.

Stating that the property and construction industry understood how to deliver low-carbon assets, Madew said the next challenge was to move beyond ‘low carbon’ to ‘no carbon’. The GBCA had committed last year to recognising buildings, fitouts and communities that achieved ‘net zero’, or even delivered positive outcomes in terms of energy, carbon or water. The organisation has been working with NABERS and the Department of the Environment over the past six months to adapt the Australian Government’s Carbon Neutral Standard for buildings and precincts. Madew described this as the next step to bringing their work and commitments to the international stage.

Madew adds that Australia’s participation in the Advancing Net Zero project reinforces our international sustainability leadership, and strengthens international collaboration as they work towards a zero carbon future worldwide.

Additionally, the GBCA is also developing a new curriculum to educate professionals on the design and delivery of net zero buildings. The launch of Advancing Net Zero reconfirms the commitment of the WorldGBC, its 74 GBCs and 27,000 member companies, to reduce CO2 emissions from the building sector by 84 gigatonnes by 2050.

The World GBC’s long-term targets include ensuring all new buildings and major renovations are net zero in 2030, and no buildings are built below net zero standards beyond 2030; 100 per cent of buildings are net zero by 2050; 75,000 professionals are trained on net zero building by 2030, and 300,000 professionals by 2050; and all GBCs operating certification schemes have net zero rating tools in place by 2030.

Announcing the project at the Business and Climate Summit in London, WorldGBC CEO Terri Wills said that achieving their objective of keeping global warming to within 1.5°C-2°C will depend on their ability to advance net zero buildings; i.e., those that generate clean energy and produce no net emissions. Wills added that net zero buildings will be a defining contribution in their efforts to tackle climate change.