Building sector is the key to achieving Kyoto targets

Click here to view the Green Building Council of Australia's response paper to Garnaut

The building sector is a major key to achieving greenhouse gas abatement targets required by Kyoto according to The Green Building Council of Australia ("GBCA") response to the Garnaut Review.

In its submission to the Garnaut Issues Paper on Transport, Planning and the Built Environment, GBCA urged the government to institute a national approach that promoted sustainable design, technology, systems and generation measures.

GBCA Chief Executive Ms Romilly Madew said that international experience and local research provided overwhelming evidence that green building policy initiatives were effective while not a great expense to the economy.

"The Garnaut Review provides a unique opportunity to encourage all levels of government to coordinate their efforts to encourage a greater take up of green practices and technologies in the construction and refurbishment of Australia's buildings," Ms Madew said.

"Research tells us that buildings account for nearly a quarter of Australia's annual greenhouse gas emissions. The 4th International Panel of Climate Change report showed that buildings represent the single biggest opportunity for greenhouse gas abatement globally, exceeding energy, transport and industry sectors combined.

"When a single building can reduce its energy usage by up to 100% through the application of environmentally sustainable design, technology, systems and generation, then the potential to reduce a city's energy use, or a state's, or a country's is obvious," Ms Madew said.

To help achieve Kyoto targets, the GBCA believes the property sector should be given greater incentive to adopt green practices and to design and build green, as quickly as possible. Incentives were particularly important to help address the challenge of greening existing building stock - some 98 per cent of all buildings.

Ms Madew added that it was her hope that the Garnaut Review would inspire strong leadership to ensure that the potential for consistent, national policy and incentives does not go untapped.

"Green building incentives will undoubtedly be a cost to government of implementing policy and incentives to achieve these objectives however the cost of not acting to achieve them will be much, much higher," she said

Incentives to adopt green principles would see:
- Increased depreciation for green buildings
- could save 203 mega tones of carbon over a decade or the equivalent to 6.4 million cars off our roads each year.
- Electricity use in commercial stock halved by 2030 and reduced by 70% by 2050;
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduced by 30% within 20 years;
- the cost to Gross Domestic Product of conventional abatement programs cut by $38 billion;
- the cost of carbon abatement reduced by 14% or $30 per tonne by 2050;
- water useage reduced by up to 60% in commercial stock; and finally
- will help Australia reach its Kyoto protocol target.

To date, many Australian governments have mandated green building policy and action within their own office accommodation guidelines however there is still much that can be done to take the vital next step of working with the property and construction sector to affect substantial longer term change.

Ms Madew and Board members Maria Atkinson and John Thwaites will participate at the 2020 Summit on 19 - 20 April to discuss and debate 'population, sustainability, climate change and water'.

For further information regarding incentives please refer to the attached submission to the Garnaut Issues Paper on Transport, Planning and the Built Environment.