The Federal Government is providing additional investment in energy efficiency programs for the built environment, drawing support from major sustainable infrastructure bodies.
Increased government funding means programs such as the National Australian Built Environment Energy Ratings System and the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program will be continued and expanded.
The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) welcomed the announcement, saying the investment had a clear focus on improving the energy and emissions performance of buildings.
The built environment accounts for a quarter of Australia’s emissions.
However, ASBEC’s modelling has indicated that with the right level of support, Australia’s building sector could deliver over a quarter of Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target, whilst saving $20 billion and creating a healthier, more productive built environment.
ASBEC’s Executive Director, Suzanne Toumbourou, said the Federal Government’s commitment to low energy buildings sets the foundation for meaningful progress in a sector that offers some of the most cost-effective solutions for energy savings and emissions reduction.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) also welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of additional support for energy efficiency programs.
Head of Public Affairs and Membership, Jonathan Cartledge, said it was terrific to see government recognising the significant opportunity the built environment offers to meet Australia’s emissions reduction commitments.
“There is a wealth of evidence showing that improving the energy efficiency of our buildings is an extremely cost effective way to considerably cut carbon emissions,” Mr Cartledge said.
“Measures targeted at new and existing buildings could deliver 28 per cent of Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target according to the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council.
The announcement includes commitments to the expansion of the application of the National Australian Built Environment Energy Ratings System (NABERS) to more building types, such as schools and industrial buildings.
“ASBEC strongly supports the expansion of the National Australian Built Environment Energy Ratings System, which has grown awareness of the benefits of energy performance of commercial buildings and driven better comfort and bill-saving outcomes for occupants,” Ms Toumbourou said.
“We look forward to a nationally harmonised rating system for residential buildings, so that householders can realise these benefits as well.”
Mr Cartledge said, “The GBCA is proud to work in close partnership with the NABERS program, and looks forward to helping fully leverage the benefits of its expanded focus.”
The Government has also pledged to continue the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program, which Mr Cartledge said has a proven track record of success.
“We would urge the government at the conclusion of the announced review to move forward with applying mandatory disclosure to other high energy using classes of commercial building,” he said.
“The GBCA has always been a strong supporter of the CBD program, which working in parallel with Green Star, has proven to be a critical driver in unlocking the emissions reduction potential of our buildings while raising awareness of building energy performance among building occupants, delivering cost savings and creating jobs.
“Our Carbon Positive Roadmap for the built environment, released last year, sets out the clear steps required for commercial, institutional and government buildings and fitouts to decarbonise and proposes a range of policy positions for industry to support.
“It is fantastic to see calls for upgrades to energy efficiency requirements and an expansion of requirements for the mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency reflected in this announcement.”
Earlier in 2019, both organisations also applauded the release of the COAG Energy Council’s Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings, which outlined a pathway towards zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings.
This was in addition to increases to the energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code and further consideration of options for existing buildings.
“Energy ratings for buildings and the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings hold great promise, but there is much more to be done to meet the full potential that Australia’s buildings offer,” said Ms Toumbourou.
“More efficient homes and commercial buildings can deliver significant emissions reduction, energy bill savings, comfort and health benefits and reduced stress on the electricity grid. We’re pleased that the Australian Government is switching onto this opportunity.”
Mr Cartledge said the built environment represents an incredible opportunity to support the transition to a low emissions future.
“These investments represent a step in the right direction towards the recognition of this potential. We look forward to working with government in the implementation of these initiatives.”