Paving a pathway for sustainable cities

The Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Energy, The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, talks about the opportunities we can leverage off of the recent launch of the National Carbon Offset Standard for Buildings and Precincts. 

Our cities are where most of us live and work.  And as our cities grow, we need to consider how they are planned, built and managed. Our buildings and precincts play a critical role as Australia transitions to a lower emissions future.

To support this transition, the Australian Government is helping businesses to take voluntary action to cut emissions.

Australian businesses, councils, universities and other organisations are working to reduce their impact on the climate. Some are choosing to go one step further and show leadership by becoming carbon neutral.

The Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard sets out how businesses can measure, reduce, offset, report and audit greenhouse gas emissions, and how they can achieve carbon neutral certification.

Organisations, products, services and events can all be certified. It is possible to fly carbon neutral, buy carbon neutral food and wine, and source carbon neutral business products.

And now through a partnership between the Australian Government and the property sector, we have two new categories under the Standard for buildings and for precincts to achieve carbon neutrality. 

Earlier this month, I was pleased to launch the new categories at Barangaroo in Sydney’s CBD. The Barangaroo Delivery Authority is proposing to use the new Standard to confirm and validate the precinct’s carbon neutrality in the future.

The new buildings and precincts Standards complement the great work the property sector is undertaking already in energy efficiency, renewables, lowering emissions and contributing towards more livable cities.

Developed in partnership with the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and the NABERS Administrator, the new Standards meet the growing demand for a credible approach to claim carbon neutrality in the property sector.

Understanding emissions sources helps identify production efficiencies and areas to save energy. It helps organisations build their carbon accounting and management skills as we progress to a low emissions future. Achieving certification against the Standard demonstrates leadership to clients and customers.

By reducing emissions from their operations, carbon neutral organisations are contributing to meeting Australia’s emission reduction target. But they are doing more. They are also investing in additional emission reductions by purchasing offset units.

So far, more than 7 million tonnes of offset units have been purchased by certified businesses, this is the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off the road for a year.

When businesses invest in offset projects, they are not only reducing global emissions, but are also contributing to environmental, social and economic benefits for local communities involved in the carbon offset project.

The buildings and precincts Standards, together with those already available for organisations, products and services, and events – provide guidance for managing emissions across an extensive range of business types and sectors.

Councils and cities are already engaged in emissions reduction activities. I congratulate them for taking these steps. In doing so they are encouraging businesses and communities to take action along with them. The Standards can be used as a guide to move towards carbon neutrality.

The collaboration between government and the property sector in developing the new Standards is an important one.  The Standards are a culmination of a partnership between the Government and property sector. Industry leaders, technical experts, and university and city representatives have all given their time to develop the Standards.

Importantly, to streamline usability of the Standard for the building sector, we are partnered with GBCA and the NSW Government so carbon neutral building certifications are now offered through the NABERS and Green Star rating processes. This will help avoid duplication and reduce costs for participants.

The Standards to cover buildings and precincts offer new opportunities to recognise climate leadership in the property sector.  Certification also provides a competitive edge in the market place.

I look forward to witnessing the growth of carbon neutral certified buildings and precincts.