Can buildings help us meet our Paris Agreement commitments?

28 Oct 2020

November 4, 2020 will mark four years since the Paris Agreement came into effect. We spoke to Tanya Cox, World Green Building Council Chair and Green Building Council of Australia Non-Executive Director, to see how Australia is tracking to meet our commitments.

The Paris Agreement’s main goal is to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” The agreement states that signatories shouldn’t stop there, calling on them to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

For signatories a race is on to find new, bold ways to suppress rising temperatures. With buildings and construction responsible for 39% of global energy related emissions, it’s up to our industry to step up and find ways to curb climbing temperatures.

A recognised leader in the property and sustainability sectors, Tanya Cox says that around the world the industry is making the move to lower emissions - both in terms of ongoing operating emissions and the carbon emissions embedded in the materials used - and they’re using guidance from the Green Building Councils to do this.

“Globally, more than 100 organisations (76), cities (28) and states (6) have signed up to the Net Zero Carbon Building Commitment. The Commitment provides a framework to develop ambitious solutions for the reduction of carbon operating emissions. 

“Signatories currently include assets and operations spanning over 80 countries. Organisations signed up to the Commitment now cover nearly 6,000 assets, over 32 million sqm of total floor area and US$100bn in annual turnover,” explained Tanya.

Tanya says that oganisations are increasingly interested in how Green Star can help them meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals too and that Green Star Buildings has been designed with this in mind.

“The eight Green Star Building categories have been mapped to the SDGs and address minimum expectations in over 40 areas, ranging from clean air to responsible construction and from biodiversity to indigenous inclusion, helping the Australian property industry increase its impact.”

The next decade is a sprint for the built environment and as a member of the tool’s Advisory Committee, Tanya says  that at a local level the system will undoubtably help us to reach net zero carbon operating emissions sooner.

“The tool incorporates the aspiration and guidance to lead all new buildings to net zero carbon emissions, which in Australia, will become the norm sooner than in other countries, in large part due to Green Star Buildings,” said Tanya.

Thank you to Tanya and the 150 other sustainability professionals who advised across our expert reference panels and advisory groups so we could launch the comprehensive tool you see today. We can’t wait to see how it’s used on buildings around Australia.