Billions of dollars’ worth of investment in manufacturing, warehouse and processing facilities could be at risk of becoming stranded if the facilities cannot demonstrate that they are either zero carbon or low carbon, the latest report has warned.

In its latest report, the Green Building Council of Australia has warned that logistical and industrial buildings being constructed throughout Australia and New Zealand between 2020 and 2030 which span tens of millions of square feet could risk becoming stranded assets which are undesirable for either investment or occupation if sustainable building and design practices are not embraced and independently certified.

Green Building Council of Australia CEO Davina Rooney said zero and low emission buildings will become the choice for investors who want long-term valuable assets as we move toward a low-carbon economy.

“We must act swiftly to ensure our industry plays its part in global efforts to avoid catastrophic global warming,” Rooney said.

“To remain competitive in the Asia-Pacific region and meet Paris Agreement commitments, Australia and New Zealand must shift to a significantly less polluting, lower carbon economy and society by 2050.

“The science is clear, and there is growing financial pressure, political will, public demand, and legislation driving us towards a zero-carbon world. As this shift occurs, buildings that are not zero carbon have a real risk of becoming stranded assets.”

Rooney says the industrial sector represents a significant opportunity in low carbon technology.

The size of these facilities mean they are ideal for increasing rooftop solar PV capacity, she said.

NZGBC chief executive Andrew Eagles said industrial facilities which are more sustainable and efficient are gaining in popularity.

“They’re being backed by large financial institutions, international agreements, national legislation, and by businesses who can see the all so obvious benefits,” Eagles said.

“Most importantly, less polluting buildings are backed by the people working in them.”

The report comes as GBCA prepares to release its next round of rating tools which will increase benchmarks required for buildings to achieve Green Star certification.

To achieve maximum possible ratings, new buildings will need to be carbon positive, have exceptional resource efficiency and be constructed to withstand climate risks.

According to the report, Green Star certified industrial buildings involve only 2 percent greater upfront costs during construction to support sustainable design yet generate 66 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and have lower life-cycle construction costs to the tune of 20 percent.

Green Star industrial facilities save tenants an average $1.11 per square meter in operating costs compared with other non-certified premise, according to Ian Barter, General Manager – Northern Region from Frasers Property Industrial at Frasers Property.

In a 20,000 sqm warehouse, this equates to a saving of around $22,000 per year.

Around Australia, there has been growing momentum in the push for sustainable industrial facilities.

Thus far, 36 industrial facilities have received either design or as-built certifications for Green Star.

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