Looking for strong leadership

A word from Rom

14 Jul 2016

Strong leadership has never been more important than it is today.

Climate change won’t disappear amid the current political uncertainty. The Paris Agreement remains signed and sealed. Australia’s population will continue to grow, our cities will expand and our greenhouse gas emissions will too.  

The next three years is not a time for stagnation. It’s a time for action.

During the election campaign, the Coalition outlined a number of policies to drive sustainability in the built environment. These included $100 million for a Sustainable Cities Investment Fund, $50 million for the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, a City Deal for Western Sydney and an expanded Commercial Building Disclosure scheme that will tackle the ‘mid tier’ building sector.

All of these policies address elements of our five-point election plan:

  1. Move towards net zero
  2. Raise minimum standards for buildings
  3. Harness the potential of mid-tier buildings
  4. Accelerate the advancement of a precinct utilities marketplace
  5. Catalyse the sustainable cities movement.

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council’s (ASBEC’s) Low Carbon, High Performance report underscores the massive opportunity within our industry’s grasp. We can eliminate emissions from our buildings entirely by 2050. And we can deliver healthier, more productive cities and save $20 billion using technologies that exist today.

Our industry is taking great strides forward. In the last few months, a number of leaders have certified their entire portfolios under the Green Star – Performance rating system, and have set baselines before they embark on large-scale retrofit programs.

More than 50 large-scale projects are working with us to achieve Green Star – Communities ratings. And we have a massive 1,300 plus Green Star-rated projects. We are at the tipping point of exponential growth.

But, as ASBEC’s report reveals, progress has not been fast enough. Energy productivity has improved by just two per cent across the board in the commercial sector, and by five per cent in the residential sector.

We need to move faster if we are to arrest climate change – and we need to move faster if we are to accommodate a growing population in cities that are liveable and sustainable.

Leadership doesn’t rest with the Prime Minister and his government. All political parties outlined their commitment to the Australian people in the lead-up to the election. The Green Building Council of Australia has strong relationships with all political parties, and we will continue to work with all parliamentarians to ensure they deliver.

In his victory speech on Sunday, Malcolm Turnbull said he took the concession call from Bill Shorten while holding his one-year-old grand-daughter on his hip. “It’s a beautiful reminder that we are trustees… for future generations,” he said.

And it’s a beautiful reminder of why we cannot give up on sustainability, and on the chance to build a better future for all Australians.