BBP chair Paul Wall with Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Image: Jack Begbie

Even while commercial floor space has increased by 14 per cent, Australian property companies in the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) have cut total emissions by 52 per cent, energy use by 43 per cent and water use by 36 per cent on 2006 levels, while enjoying energy bill savings in the order of $33 million a year.

Seven years in, the City of Sydney’s BBP is well on its way to its goal of a 70 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and based on the current trajectory will most likely exceed that target, according to the latest annual report.

The partnership represents the top property companies in the Sydney CBD (though most have assets in other cities), together covering 54 per cent of the city’s commercial office space. The goal is to improve the sustainability of the city’s commercial and public sector buildings, particularly around energy, water and waste efficiency.

Other achievements this year included 8000 tonnes of rehomed furniture and 94 per cent of premium property owners now using green leases.

BBP chair and Dexus head of group sustainability Paul Wall said the building owners involved were committed to carbon reduction.

“Sydney’s major property owners continue to lead the world in sustainability, delivering super-efficient, liveable and resilient buildings and enhancing our city’s reputation as a global investment destination,” Mr Wall said.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the program came about as the city realised commercial buildings were key to its 2030 sustainability goals.

“We knew we couldn’t achieve our target of a 70 per cent emissions reduction across our area unless we worked with the major commercial landlords of the city,” Ms Moore said.

“This phenomenal result came about thanks to effective long-term collaboration between government and the private sector. Buildings account for more than 80 per cent of emissions generated in our area; we’re fortunate to have some very collaborative and forward thinking organisations to work with.”

The average carbon intensity of BBP buildings is now 59kg CO2-e/sq m, which is 34 per cent better than the market average.

GRESB head of Asia-Pacific Ruben Langbroek said the partnership was driving Australia’s global reputation on building sustainability.

“Although Better Buildings Partnership members are based in Sydney, they manage properties across the country and are driving great positive change in how buildings are constructed and operated in Australia,” Mr Langbroek said.

“Our data has consistently shown that the Australian property market is a global sustainability leader and this reflects the strong environmental work of the Better Buildings Partnership.”

Mr Wall said the focus was now shifting to “accelerating net zero”.

“The partnership is developing a set of guidelines and tools which inform building owners and tenants about the pathways that can be taken to achieve net zero buildings,” the report said.

Other upcoming commitments include:

  • Net zero: Demonstrate pathways to reach carbon positive and increase renewable energy generation
  • Waste: Support the uptake of the NABERS Waste tool and GECA certification as industry standard
  • Defit recovery: Work towards 80 per cent defit recovery and demonstrate viable new material from furniture waste
  • Engage tenants: Create market demand for carbon positive by working with tenants and occupant communities
  • Data insights: Explore insights from improved data collection

Companies involved in the BBP include AMP Capital, Brookfield, Charter Hall, City of Sydney, DEXUS, Frasers Property, GPT, Investa, ISPT, LendLease, Mirvac, Stockland, University of Sydney, Sydney TAFE and University of Technology Sydney.