Would you like to know why 717 people registered for our webinar on Wednesday, in conjunction with Built called Time to Slash Embodied Carbon in Buildings?

Slashing embodied carbon in buildings webinar and why Atlassian’s new headquarters could be a game changer

For once we remembered to ask.

A whopping 90 per cent said the topic was the critical factor.

For a decade or more we’ve been used to hearing that Aussie property owners are world leading.

On operational energy we know that’s true. In fact, if your premium or A grade property portfolio is not an outperformer these days then hang your head in shame.   

This week out came the gongs again thanks to the most recent results from the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark.

Australia leads GRESB’s real asset ESG rankings for 11th straight year

But while the owners and their managers are riding high on slashing operational energy where has the attention been when it comes to embodied carbon?

You can see by the selection of questions we saved from the webinar QandA and published below, that there is really deep engagement with this topic. You could easily say it’s the next frontier.

Clearly, we now need to set our own sights on more deep dives into this complex topic.

You’re invited to let us know what you think and whether you can help answer some of these questions that we barely had time to touch on during the event.

Send your thoughts, answers or more questions to editorial@thefifthestaet.com.au

By the way the audience loved the webinar – 46 per cent said it was “excellent” and 42 per cent said it was “very good”. Nice to know.

Questions directed to Bronwyn Zorgdrager, Atlassian:

  • Did you avoid timber from native forests, with a view of protecting biodiversity?
  • What about the interior fitout, how is this being tracked?
  • interesting use of the word “habitat” in the design- would love to hear more about that
  • How was the benchmark established?
  • How did you determine the project benchmark to assess your 50 per cent reduction?
  • Is the 315kgCO2/m2 target for embodied or upfront?
  • What part does carbon neutral materials play in achieving your EC reduction goals?

General questions to the panel

  • The emergence of fly ash as a cement replacement technology has created high demand. This is problematic as it is a by product of a fossil fuel based energy generation process. Is there another cement replacement on the horizon that has a cleaner source?
  • What selection tools do you use in procuring low EC materials?
  • Keen to know how sand (in concrete) is accounted? Sand as a resource is a huge and growing environmentally damaging problem.
  • An open question to all speakers, when measuring your kgCO2eq for materials used in projects, where are you getting your material coefficient values from? For example, material EPDs from suppliers, eTool etc
  • Is it possible to use a “whole of life” emissions for materials instead of embodied versus operational emissions?  Glass is one material that comes to mind: all-glass “walls” even if double-glazed perform worse than the least-insulated walls, but it seems this wouldn’t be captured in an ’embodied carbon’ review
  • Are you able to share a breakdown of upfront carbon reduction strategies and how much they contributed [in the Atlassian building] ? Looks like you’re at 36 per cent reduction at the moment (?) – timber hybrid structure would take a up chunk of this but wondering what other improvements you’re looking at
  • How do you balance the mandate for low embodied carbon materials with the other environmental impacts that Matt [Williams] indicated? How are decisions made in reality – is a standardised methodology being used?
  • Could NSW please trump the new draft National Construction Code with a mandatory higher Green Star requirement in its amended BASIX component of the draft Design & Place SEPP? [This one is very interesting including an emerging desire it seems for more government mandates to speed things along]
  • In using EPDs to compare different material options, is there a challenge in making sure that apparent reductions of one option over another is a real reduction as opposed to different assumptions (e.g. in relation to transport distances and emissions) in different EPDs?
  • Thanks for the great presentations. What are the thoughts of the panel members of the role of offsetting carbon, or using products which offset carbon, rather than using products which are lower embodied carbon in construction?
  • Would be interested to hear some thoughts on end of life thinking from the team/industry. EG Interface has a take back scheme for their products. Is the supply chain moving toward that direction?
  • In using EPDs to compare different material options, is there a challenge in making sure that apparent reductions of one option over another is a real reduction as opposed to different assumptions (such as in relation to transport distances and emissions) in different EPDs?
  • Just a comment – Botany Industrial Park is an interesting site with potential for green development. It has coal and gas power plants, oil refinery/plastics manufacturing, etc. and is adjacent to ports. Could be converted for HYBRIT Steel or geopolymer concrete, also it’s near Kurnell desalination plant… on the industrial supply chain side of construction
  • Has the use of recycled materials (like recycled glass in concrete) been a factor in reducing embodied carbon in this project?

And big big thanks to the great team at Built. for their sponsorship of the event and for publishing a fabulous white paper you can still download here.

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