Net zero for Australia's built environment is possible by 2040
Author: Nadia Razzhigaeva
Researchers from UNSW Sydney have developed a national reference guide to help Australia hit its net zero targets. The free online resource provides a pathway to achieving ‘whole of life’ net zero carbon for Australian buildings by 2040. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2021 Report labelling ‘Code Red for Humanity’, there is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions globally, and the building industry is a prime opportunity sector. The world’s built environment is responsible for 37 per cent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia, it is responsible for one-fifth of all our emissions. Carbon emissions within the built environment occur across all stages of a building’s life cycle. “Historically, most professionals have only focussed on reducing the operational carbon footprints of buildings,” says Prof. Prasad. “Operational carbon refers to what is required for the building to run once it is built, like energy use in heating or cooling.” Operationally carbon–friendly buildings are fully powered from on-site and off-site renewables, which offset the buildings carbon emissions. Meanwhile, embodied carbon footprints, which are accrued before a building is even constructed, have usually been overlooked by the industry. “There are significant amounts of emissions embedded in the materials and construction of the building itself and these need to be addressed and offset in order for our built environment to be truly net zero,” says Prof Prasad.