The Green Building Council of Australia will introduce net zero certification for buildings from 2016, it has announced as part of the inaugural Buildings Day at COP 21 in Paris. The GBCA also said it would push for increased minimum energy efficiency standards in the Building Code of Australia.
GBCA chief executive Romilly Madew said the council would introduce a new label in 2016 to recognise buildings that achieve “net zero” impact in energy, carbon and water. The council joins Canada and South Africa in pledging to introduce labelling to move the industry towards net zero new buildings.
“This new label will also recognise buildings that go beyond net zero to make positive contributions to the environment, such as generating more renewable energy than is consumed,” Ms Madew says.
“Alongside this label, we will introduce an advanced curriculum to educate professionals on how to deliver net zero buildings, promote net zero as an achievable goal in our events, and create resources that can be used internationally to drive the uptake of net zero building worldwide.”
Ms Madew said the Australian property sector was already a world leader, with benchmarks like GRESB as proof, but could go even further.
“Our next challenge is to embrace a net zero philosophy,” she said. “The GBCA’s vision is to recognise and reward projects that make a positive contribution to the environment.”
The GBCA also committed to working with local, state and federal governments to develop policies and initiatives that will lead to greener buildings, communities and cities – including working “to improve regulations to increase the energy efficiency requirements in the Building Code of Australia”.
The council said it would also work with industry to:
- Create a mid-tier commercial office pathway to eliminate barriers to improving energy efficiency in existing buildings
- Promote a pathway to maximise the use of renewable energy use in buildings
- Create a minimum standard that addresses additional water, waste and health provisions that can be used by local authorities to mandate minimum sustainability compliance by all buildings
WorldGBC announces commitment to expand green building
COP 21 has been host to the first-ever Buildings Day this year, created to acknowledge that buildings account for around a third of the world’s emissions, and that green building is one of the most cost-effective ways to tackle climate change.
At a Buildings Day event, the World Green Building Council announced that 25 green building councils around the world had committed to certifying 1.25 billion square metres of building space – double the size of Singapore – over the next five years.
“Today marks a turning point in history,” WorldGBC chief executive Terri Wills said.
“While the building sector is a major contributor to climate change, it is an essential part of the solution – and one that brings immediate benefits to economy and society.
“Green Building Councils, their private sector members and government partners have committed to transform the global buildings industry to not only help us reach a 2°C world tomorrow, but enable us to realise the direct benefits from a new way of building – today.”
Ms Willis said that the green building expansion commitment was just the start, and that in 10-15 years’ time, a “green building revolution” will see sustainable buildings as standard.
Other commitments made included all 74 national Green Building Councils supporting moves to go net zero by 2050, and 125 corporate members, including Australia’s Lendlease, making specific commitments.
Lendlease said it had “committed to developing to the highest two certifications in the geographies [it] operate[s] in, and deliver two major global community-scale developments that are net positive by 2020”.
Launch of Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction
Buildings Day also saw the launch of a new alliance of 18 countries and over 60 organisations, known as the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, including the WorldGBC, its 74 Green Building Councils and their 27,000 member companies.
The alliance committed to help countries meet their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) through green building. Actions will include:
- minimising energy demand
- greening the construction value chain
- integrating renewables through district energy
- implementing integrated building design and urban planning
- engaging financing institutions
The CRC for Low Carbon Living has also signed on to the alliance, which was described as “a significant outcome” by CRCLCL representative Dr Peter Graham, executive director of the Global Buildings Performance Network and leader of the CRCLCL’s Swinburne University Node of Excellence for Smart Low Carbon Built Environments in Melbourne.
“The building and construction sector is responsible for 30 per cent of global carbon emissions, which could reach 50 per cent by 2050 if nothing is done,” Dr Graham said.
“In Australia, the sector contributes 23 per cent of our overall carbon emissions so the formation of this global alliance is a breakthrough. Importantly, the CRCLCL’s expertise through its many research and industry partnership projects means it plays a key role in helping reduce Australia’s emissions.
“It is also important to point out that this is the first time the COP has introduced an action agenda on the building sector through the Buildings Day meeting, giving us a chance to collaborate on research, policy and action at an international level.”