The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and the Property Council of Australia have released a new report that highlights recommendations for local governments to drive down carbon emissions and create healthier homes and built spaces for everyone.
Every Building Counts for Local Governments, is a policy plan that demonstrates how industry and government collaboration can drive innovation to build a greener, healthier, and more equitable environment for communities. It’s a companion to two reports tailored for the Federal Government and State and Territory Governments.
And the movement to build better is a justified one. Buildings account for half of Australia’s electricity use, almost a quarter of its emissions, and are the spaces we spend most of our time, with flow on effects to our health and wellbeing. The good news is that we have the technology to decarbonise our buildings now, but it must be done at speed and scale to pave the way for other sectors which face hard-to-abate emissions.
The report shows that local governments are at the helm of transitioning communities to a low emission economy, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise with local governments demonstrating leadership in climate change action for many years, piloting innovative environmental and wellbeing programs. But this movement to drive down carbon emissions can only be achieved if there is a clear plan moving forward – incorporating a steady trajectory for CO2 reductions and a suite of policies will not only provide communities with certainty, but industry too.
That’s where the Every Building Counts report comes in.
The key recommendations of Every Building Counts are:
- Set a long-term vision for zero-carbon-ready buildings.
- Support a nationally harmonised approach to phase out fossil fuel gas in buildings and appliances.
- Accelerate the shift to high-performance, sustainable buildings with targeted incentives.
- Commit to achieving zero-carbon-ready new and existing government-owned and leased buildings by 2030.
- Drive the application of trusted, robust, credible rating systems such as Green Star.
- Adopt a credible national framework for measuring embodied carbon.
What is clear is that local governments have many ways to build the movement for a greener, healthier and more equitable environment for their communities, with three key tools being:
- leadership initiatives
- a commitment to zero-carbon-ready buildings, and
- explicit steps to encourage electrification in their communities, including support for low-income households for energy-efficient, all-electric upgrades for homes, and incentives for local businesses and commercial buildings to follow in local government’s footsteps.
GBCA CEO, Davina Rooney said the report reiterates the importance of local governments continuing to demonstrate climate leadership.
“Our local governments have been at the global forefront of climate action innovation,” Ms Rooney said.
“In recent years we have seen them step up to lead the charge on policies and programs that accelerate action on energy efficiency, emissions reduction and electrification for homes and buildings in their communities.”
Property Council Victorian Executive Director Cath Evans agreed, urging local governments to move with coordinated and targeted actions to address building emissions, and that without unified movement, the net zero transition will not be totally successful.
“Every Building Counts recognises that every level of government has an important role to play in setting policies that support full decarbonisation of new and existing buildings.
“For local government, the recommendations in this report and ready-made examples of successful initiatives provide a platform for the next phase of locally-led reforms,” Ms Evans said.
To be on track for a greener, healthier, and more equitable built environment, the importance of local governments cannot be understated. Should local governments set a clear plan, a steady trajectory for emissions reductions and highlight policies to provide communities and industry with certainty, that path towards healthy spaces with low emissions will be undoubtedly smoother.
To read the report, head to www.everybuildingcounts.com.au/