Businesses and other organisations are managing their greenhouse gas emissions to position themselves for growth and competitiveness in a lower-emissions future. Businesses are also choosing to go one step further and demonstrate leadership and corporate responsibility by becoming carbon neutral. Carbon neutral means reducing emissions where possible and compensating for the remainder by investing in carbon offset projects to achieve zero carbon emissions (Figure 1). In working towards carbon neutrality, buildings can achieve cost savings from improved energy productivity or other operational efficiencies, and can respond to demand from occupants and tenants for sustainable and energy-efficient accommodation.
The Australian Government, in partnership with the property sector and business, has developed the National Carbon Offset Standard for Buildings (Building Standard). The Building Standard is a voluntary standard to manage greenhouse gas emissions and to achieve carbon neutrality. It provides best-practice guidance on how to measure, reduce, offset, report and audit emissions that occur as a result of the operations of a building. The Building Standard has been designed to accommodate a wide variety of building types in Australia. From large office buildings to smaller apartment complexes, the Building Standard is a framework to achieve carbon neutrality and showcase climate leadership. The Building Standard can be used in a number of ways. It can be used to better understand and manage carbon emissions, to credibly claim carbon neutrality and to seek carbon neutral certification. For Buildings that are certified, the Carbon Neutral Certification Trade Mark (the certification trade mark) is available for use. It provides a legitimate stamp of approval that a building has met all the requirements of the Building Standard and provides further opportunities to demonstrate climate commitments to stakeholders. Certification against the Building Standard is described in Section 3 of this document.