Call for government to back buildings in climate race

27 Apr 2023

A new joint report by the Property Council of Australia and the Green Building Council of Australia sets out a suite of property-focused policy recommendations that would help Australia achieve its decarbonisation goals.

To be launched in Sydney today at an event attended by Senator the Hon. Jenny McAllister, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the report titled 'Every Building Counts' outlines eight key policy recommendations to shape a greener, healthier, and more equitable built environment. 

The recommendations are: 

  • Set out a long-term strategy for zero-carbon-ready buildings  
  • Require all new residential and commercial buildings to operate on high-quality electric equipment in National Construction Code 2025 
  • Accelerate the shift to high performance buildings with targeted incentives 
  • Deliver an accelerated trajectory for resilient, all electric, zero carbon buildings in the building code 
  • Embed the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle in the National Electricity Objective and other relevant legislation, statements and policies 
  • Commit zero-carbon-ready for all new and existing government owned and leased buildings by 2030 
  • Expand NABERS to cover all building types and extend the CBD program; and empower owners, buyers and renters with a single national rating for home energy performance 
  • Adopt a credible national framework for measuring embodied carbon 

Property Council Chief Executive Mike Zorbas said the report encourages political leaders to look for emissions reduction opportunities across all sectors of the economy. 

“Buildings account for more than 50 per cent of Australia's electricity use and 25 per cent of all emissions,” Mr Zorbas said. 

“The Australian property sector are global leaders in sustainability, which means we are incredibly well positioned to deliver high-impact and yet cost-effective ways to help achieve the nation’s net zero goals. 

“All we need is the right policy settings to guide that effort. Smart policies should be front and centre for decision-makers seeking to reduce Australia’s emissions,” he said. 

The report also calls for the creation of a national rating scheme for the energy performance of homes, similar to the scheme for white goods and electronic appliances.  

Green Building Council of Australia Chief Executive Officer Davina Rooney said a reliable rating scheme would allow buyers and renters to easily compare homes on the market and ensure Australia joins other nations successfully implementing similar policies. “Locally, we're living with the impacts of climate change and a cost-of-living crisis, while healthy, affordable, energy efficient homes are increasingly out of reach for everyday Australians,” Ms Rooney said.  “Globally, we're being called to ‘do everything, everywhere, all at once’ to reduce carbon emissions. Australia has the tools, the experts, and the guidance to meet this call and ready our buildings and homes for the future,” she said. 

Mr Zorbas said while most people are now used to knowing the energy performance of their dryer or fridge, there’s no similar rating system that gives homebuyers a clear picture of a home’s energy consumption.  “While most of us will have seen energy ratings stuck on the front of a fridge, washing machine or dryer there is currently no national rating scheme for what is usually a person’s greatest life purchase – their home,” Mr Zorbas said.  

“It’s high time Australian home buyers and renters had access to a consistent national rating, so they're aware of the cost of energy bills they’re set to face and comfort levels they can expect during colder months,” he said. 

The report sets the scene for a “just transition”, that would ensure vulnerable people, not just the wealthy, benefit from a cleaner, more energy efficient built environment while urging government action on climate resilient buildings able to withstand more frequent and severe weather events. 

Other recommendations include tackling embodied carbon, energy market reforms to elevate the importance of taking demand side action, that all new residential and commercial buildings be delivered as all-electric, and to phase out fossil fuels in existing buildings and appliances. 

Ms Rooney said the report also has a strong focus on skills because the shift to low carbon, resilient buildings cannot be achieved without improving the ability and capacity of the workforce. 

“Transitioning 85 percent of homes off gas by 2040 requires retrofitting hot water systems in 5,000 homes every week until 2040, starting now. Much of Australia’s building sector is not equipped or trained for this task, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” she said. 

"We have a unique opportunity to boost the capacity and know-how of our already skilled workforce, making the transition to low carbon, resilient buildings within reach and possible, sooner rather than later,” Ms Rooney said. 

The full report can be found at  


Media Contacts 

Green Building Council of Australia: Megan Towill | 0433 885 719 | 

Sally Foley | 0435 710 336 |  

Property Council: Rhys Prka | 0425 113 273 |  

Ellie Laing-Southwood | 0416 007 830 |