Working towards greener buildings in NSW

Australia is gradually taking steps towards a greener future across a variety of sectors, and strata buildings are no exception. According to the International Energy Agency, buildings offer the largest opportunities for low-cost carbon abatement in developed countries like Australia.

As things stand, buildings account for over 50% of electricity use in NSW and Australia and represent over 25% of national emissions. Reducing energy use in buildings has the triple benefit of saving money, reducing emissions, and creating space in the grid for electrifying transport and heating.

In New South Wales, the government’s Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program intends to support and partner with industry to reduce emissions and help NSW businesses succeed in a low carbon world. The plan is that by accelerating the development of clean technology and decarbonisation, it’s possible to grow the economy and support jobs, all while significantly reducing emissions.

‘Accelerating Net Zero Buildings’, for example, is a $4.8M NSW Government initiative to boost the transition of non-residential buildings towards net-zero emissions. The initiative involves the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS), which will investigate and develop a framework for measuring, benchmarking and certifying emissions from construction and building materials.

Through the NABERS framework, the NSW government will be able to leverage the wide reach and world-leading expertise of the organisations in the NABERS community to help NSW meet its emissions reduction goals faster.

It’s vital that we start thinking carefully about carbon emissions in our buildings. Carbon emissions from materials used in construction are expected to become the largest source of carbon emissions in the building sector in the coming decades. Targeted action on reducing emissions from building materials like steel and cement is therefore crucial for NSW to meet its net-zero target by 2050.

In order to get there, the NSW Government is also working with the construction industry to encourage the voluntary use of low emission building materials (LEBMs). These materials include ‘green’ steel and concrete, and alternative products such as geopolymers.

When you consider that two out of three buildings that will be standing in NSW by 2050 haven’t even been built yet, the importance of reducing emissions from construction materials becomes clear. In order for NSW to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, buildings are a vital piece of the puzzle.

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