Low carbon, high performance: How buildings can make a major contribution to Australia’s emissions and productivity goals

Construction industry Buildings Sustainability Climate change mitigation Sustainable building design and construction Energy Australia
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As a signatory to the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Australia has committed to reaching net zero emissions by around 2050. Australia’s built environment contributes almost a quarter of Australia’s emissions, offering a significant opportunity for emissions reduction.

The Low Carbon, High Performance report provides detailed modelling of potential emissions reductions from the building sector, setting out a policy roadmap towards 2050.

Projected 2050 emissions from buildings can be reduced using existing technology, including energy efficiency measures; switching non-electric equipment and appliances to electricity; and greater use of solar photovoltaic panels.

Implementing all of the energy efficiency opportunities identified in this report could deliver over $20 billion in financial savings by 2030, in addition to productivity benefits and improvements in quality of life for Australian businesses and households.

The report identifies that government will need to support the building sector by:

  • Developing a national plan with supporting policy frameworks and governance arrangements;
  • Setting strong mandatory minimum standards for buildings, equipment and appliances;
  • Using targeted incentives and programs to motivate and support higher performance;
  • Reforming our energy market to ensure that it supports the roll-out of cost-effective energy efficiency and distributed energy improvements; and
  • Rolling out a range of supporting data, information, training and education measures.

Implementing the recommendations in this plan is urgent. Just five years of delay could lead to over $24 billion in wasted energy costs and over 170 megatonnes of lost emission reduction opportunities through lock-in of emissions intensive assets and equipment.

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