The Property Council of Australia (PCA) has welcomed the release of the final report of the Building Code Energy Performance Trajectory Project, but is it enough to meet zero-carbon sustainbaility targets?
‘Built to Perform’, the Building Code Energy Performance Trajectory Project by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia was created to develop a long-term industry-led vision for how the National Construction Code (NCC) can deliver energy and emissions savings alongside financial benefits for building owners and occupants.
‘Built to Perform’ displays that setting stronger energy-saving standards for new buildings could reduce energy bills by up to $27 billion (between now and 2050), cutting energy network costs by up to $7 billion and deliver at least 78 million tonnes of cumulative emissions savings. However, Property Council Chief Executive, Ken Morrison voiced that despite the NCC being an important policy lever in working towards a zero-carbon future, Australia must hold ‘more stringent standards’ aside from the code, as it is just not enough to reach these zero-carbon sustainability targets.
“The report highlights that building code standards, while important, will only take us part of the way to meeting Australia’s zero carbon targets,” commented Mr Morrison. The project’s comprehensive modelling across different climate zones displayed that changes to energy efficiency code can see a 19-25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions in residential buildings, see a 22-34 per cent reduction in emissions in commercial buildings and a 35-56 per cent reduction in public buildings by 2034.
“These are substantial reductions and should be pursued, but they also demonstrate that a range of other policies needs to be considered, including the decarbonisation of the electricity grid through the greater use of distributed energy, as part of a comprehensive strategy for a zero-carbon built environment by 2050,” explained Morrison.
It is also important that the industry has clarity over the course of future building code standards. “Everyone recognises that the stringency of building codes will need to increase over time, but it is important that the trajectory of these changes is mapped out into the future… [PCA] calls on governments to incorporate the results of this project into a forward trajectory of code changes over time, to provide the industry with the certainty it needs to plan for and deliver reduced carbon emissions,” he said.
Australia’s property industry is leading the way on sustainability compared to our global peers, as recently measured by the GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark), but Mr Morrison said we must not become complacent. Setting ambitious sustainability target to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency are a must. It is also just as important that Australia’s governments show leadership by establishing further comprehensive policies on targeting energy efficiency.
“Our market leaders are already doing amazing things with new and existing buildings. But a stronger suite of policies will be needed to create the momentum for change that our national emissions targets will require,” Mr Morrison commented.
“With the right leadership from government and a comprehensive suite of policies and incentives, [the building and construction] industry can deliver on our zero-carbon target in a way that also supports a growing and innovative property industry.”
The next steps for the Building Code Energy Performance Trajectory Project include a review of the project this month, with the publication of the interim report, focusing on potential short-term cost-effective stringency increases set for November this year.