Making every building count

29 Oct 2019

A landmark new plan sets out a practical pathway for transforming Australian homes, workplaces and other buildings into low carbon, high-performance structures while cost-effectively reducing emissions.

Every building counts: A practical plan for emissions reduction, is a policy toolkit jointly developed by the Property Council of Australia and Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and was launched today by the Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, the Hon Angus Taylor MP.

The package includes 75 recommendations to federal, state and territory and local governments, designed to transform Australia’s built environment and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Buildings currently account over 50% of Australia’s electricity use and almost a quarter of our carbon emissions.

The recommendations cover residential, commercial and public buildings, both existing and new, and include proposals to: introduce a single national rating for the energy performance of homes; leverage the Climate Solutions Fund and other Government policies like City Deals to drive emissions abatement; incentivise high performance with cut-through tax incentives; and expand the mandate of the Energy Security Board to balance demand and supply side policy, driving energy productivity. 

Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison said the recommendations are put forward in a way that would enable immediate implementation by the Australian Government.

“Our Government has committed Australia to the Paris Agreement and set us on a pathway towards a net zero economy by mid-century,” Mr Morrison said. 

“Buildings are a quarter of our emissions and consume over half of our electricity so we need a plan to guide this transition for all of the built environment. 

“Energy efficiency has been the forgotten part of energy policy for the past decade as governments have debated energy supply.

“With the right policy frameworks in place, we can minimise the costs of a transition to net zero emissions and create economic opportunities across all parts of industry, from sole traders and homeowners to large businesses.”

GBCA CEO Davina Rooney said the solutions identified in this toolkit have been tested and will drive real improvement across the sector.

“Australian property companies are already global leaders on sustainability,” Ms Rooney said.

"We urge the Federal Government to seize the unique opportunity the built environment offers to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in highly cost effective ways that will also stimulate the economy.

“Low carbon, high-performance buildings are better places to live, work and play and all of the policies we’ve recommended have a proven track record. 

“As Australia heads towards a low emissions economy, governments must provide a clear pathway of policies that give certainty to industry and create economic opportunities for Australian businesses.” 

The toolkit was informed by an international review of effective policies for reducing emissions in buildings. In shaping the toolkit’s recommendations, various policy options were assessed against three key criteria; Impact: Emissions reduction opportunity; Ease of implementation: Lack of barriers or challenges for adoption; and Cost effectiveness: Lowered cost of transition for industry.

The recommendations cover all building types and the full building lifecycle and are shaped around seven key themes:

1.     Set out a long term vision for net zero buildings and extend the ‘Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings’ to 2050

2.     Ensure the Climate Solutions Fund drives low cost abatement and provide targeted financial incentives

3.     Deliver a Zero Carbon Ready building code and improve enforcement and compliance 

4.     Expand the mandate of the Energy Security Board to drive energy productivity across the economy 

5.     Deliver City Deals that drive cost effective emissions reductions 

6.     Empower buyers and renters with a single national rating scheme for home energy performance

7.     Make Australia a global leader in high-performance building products

The toolkit was sponsored by Low Carbon Living CRC with support of steering group partners ASBEC and the Energy Efficiency Council and is available at