Property industry leading energy efficiency drive - but more to do

A new global survey shows Australia’s property industry is setting the pace globally on sustainability and energy efficiency, but that this should continue to be a focus of government emissions policies.

The 2018 scorecard released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks Australia 18th among the world’s largest energy users, down from its 2016 ranking of 16th position. Australia is the overall worst performing developed country on energy efficiency.

The ACEEE reported Australia performed best on building energy efficiency and ahead of the scorecard median due to the National Construction Code, Commercial Building Disclosure Scheme and appliance and equipment labelling.

“This report confirms again that Australia’s property industry leads the world on sustainability, but also that energy efficiency policies need to be a priority for governments,” said Ken Morrison, Chief Executive of the Property Council.

“The fact that our built environment policy settings are better than the international average is a big positive for Australia, but there is also a lot more to do to encourage the best to be better and to shift the performance of the middle,” Mr Morrison said.

“When you’re talking about sustainability of the built environment, it’s not just the shiny new CBD office towers – it’s the performance of every dwelling and every structure.

“Our market leaders are doing amazing things with new and existing buildings. But a stronger suite of policies will be needed to create the momentum for change that our national emissions targets will require.

“Australia’s National Energy Productivity Plan provides a sound base, but more ambitious policy will be needed, as set out in the roadmap to zero emissions by 2050 in the Low Carbon, High Performance Report produced by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC).”

Minimum energy performance standards for commercial buildings are being upgraded in our National Construction Code, but no changes are scheduled for residential buildings.

Industry is taking up the mantle of progressing a vision for the future ambition of minimum standards in the NCC. Through the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) industry is getting ready to release an industry-led pathway through a ‘zero carbon ready’ building code.

While the property industry has set its own ambitious targets to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency but there is an important role for governments to show more leadership and establish more comprehensive policies targeting energy efficiency.

“Tools such as the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) which was introduced 20 years ago have been game changers in improving the sustainability outcomes for our industry,” Mr Morrison said.

NABERS is continuing to develop new rating tools, including for apartments and tenancies and there is plenty of scope to leverage NABERS in other areas of Government policy.

“Better energy efficiency drives positive economic outcomes as well as improving sustainability with savings of up to $20 billion by 2030 forecast for the built environment,” Mr Morrison said.

Australians also want to see better results, with a survey earlier this year finding 88 per cent of voters wanted governments to invest in energy efficiency, including support for incentives to upgrade commercial buildings, minimum standards for rental homes, and upgraded energy efficiency for public buildings such as schools and hospitals.

Media contact: Matt Francis | M 0467 777 220 | E mfrancis@propertycouncil.com.au