Committing to a carbon positive world

26 Jun 2018

The World Green Building Council is set to launch its Global Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment later this year. What action will we have to take on home soil to be part of it? GBCA Head of Market Transformation, Jorge Chapa, unpacks the essentials.

Commit, disclose, act, verify, advocate.

These are the five principles guiding the Global Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment spearheaded by the World Green Building Council, C40 and the Climate Group.

It’s all part of a collective mission to meet the 1.5C target set out in the Paris Agreement, which is why earlier this month at the 2018 WorldGBC Congress in Toronto, the Global Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment was announced.

Set to be officially launched in September this year, green building council leaders from across the globe were invited to learn how they can take action on this critical issue in tackling climate change.

But Australia is already a step ahead in accepting this challenge.

GBCA CEO Romilly Madew was one of just five green building council CEOs who presented our action plan towards meeting a 1.5C target in line with the Paris Agreements. This includes the next phase of our rating system, Green Star Future Focus and the seminal discussion paper on a net zero built environment – the Carbon Positive Roadmap.

While we’ve laid the groundwork for a carbon positive environment, it’s now the time for industry to help us build it up.

GBCA Head of Market Transformation, Jorge Chapa, explains why it’s important for us all to take action on the WorldGBC’s carbon commitments.

“We believe that this will become critical to an organisations’ social license to operate. We know the investment community is looking for leaders in this space.

“We also expect large tenants to request participation in this commitment quickly. Much like the uptake of Green Star over a decade ago, it will become a clear point of differentiation.”

Jorge says that the five principles outlined by the WorldGBC will help guide businesses and organisations as we make the transition towards carbon zero.

“The first is to commit to the target.

“Then the entity agrees to disclose all energy and emissions.

“You will then be required to show that you have a plan to act over the next decade to get there.

“Then, to ensure success, each building, and the portfolio, would be required to be verified by a third party, like Green Star.

“Finally, you would be required to advocate to your stakeholders to move to net zero,” explains Jorge.

“So, if you are an owner of a building portfolio, you would be required to ensure all your buildings are put on that trajectory.

“If you are an organisation that occupies buildings, say a bank, you would be required to have all your fitouts be on that trajectory.”

As industry embarks on this next frontier for creating a resilient, sustainable built environment, it’s important to know that much like targeting a Green Star certification, the GBCA can help bridge an understanding between the Commitment and what’s required from businesses.

“We have been deeply involved in making sure this commitment is relevant to Australian organisations,” Jorge says.

“As this commitment flows from the WorldGBC’s Advancing Net Zero project, which we are founding members, it follows a lot of the work that Australian companies have been doing to drive down emissions.

“Our Carbon Positive Roadmap sets a clear leadership trajectory that reflects the goals of the Commitment, and it will ensure Green Star rated buildings are able to meet these goals and beyond.

“We will be providing support, advocacy and education to maximise Australian companies’ participation in this Commitment.”

Committing to a carbon positive built environment presents new challenges and opportunities ahead.

The challenges lie in the task to achieve this all by 2030 and in the gaps that the Commitment doesn’t address right now, but as an industry, the GBCA encourages you to engage with the Carbon Positive Roadmap to bridge these gaps.

As for the opportunities, reducing the built environment’s carbon footprint will transform our cities and communities into sustainable hubs. The Commitment will encourage industry to take stronger measures towards social responsibility and once again, position Australia as a world leader in green building.

Stay tuned for more information on the official launch of the WorldGBC’s Global Net Zero Carbon Commitment during World Green Building Week 2018.