Energy efficiency critical in move to a zero carbon building sector

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12 MAY 2016: Australia’s buildings can save billions of dollars and reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, with energy efficiency delivering over half the emissions reductions according to a new report by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC).

“Over the last decade energy efficiency delivered more than 100 petajoules in energy savings and $28 billion in avoided energy bills in Australian buildings. But there are still huge efficiency gains to be made in the building sector. Unlocking this potential will be essential for Australia to achieve its goals under the Paris Climate Change Agreement” said Luke Menzel, CEO of the Energy Efficiency Council.

The Energy Efficiency Council worked with the Property Council of Australia, the Green Building Council of Australia and other ASBEC members on the Low Carbon, High Performance report.

Multiple benefits of energy efficiency

The report highlights that improving the energy performance of buildings has many benefits beyond reducing energy bills. And recent research commissioned by the Australian Government found that the economic benefits of improved office worker productivity in more efficiency buildings could be double the benefits of energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions.

Luke Menzel said “The quality of Australia’s buildings has a huge impact on our productivity and quality of life. Buildings that are built or retrofitted for energy efficiency are more comfortable, quieter, and tend to have better indoor air quality.”

“While Australia’s big property institutions have achieved significant gains in the energy performance of their portfolios, overall energy intensity across the building sector has only slightly improved. That means the majority of Australians are not experiencing the benefits of energy efficiency in their homes and workplaces” added Luke Menzel.

Other key findings of the Low Carbon, High Performance report, authored by ClimateWorks Australia, show:

  • buildings account for 23% of Australia’s emissions, so strong action in buildings is essential to meet our international obligations to transition to zero net emissions by around 2050
  • buildings can achieve zero carbon by 2050 using existing technologies
  • buildings can deliver one quarter of the national 
emissions target and over half of the national energy productivity target by 2030.

The EEC is calling on federal and state governments to support the enabling policy roadmap set out in the report.

Luke Menzel said “International experience shows that unlocking the multiple benefits of energy efficiency requires a clear vision, stable policy and bipartisan support. With the Labor Party recently committing to doubling Australia’s energy productivity – the amount of GDP per unit of energy – all major parties have now made serious commitments to improving Australia’s energy efficiency.”

“The next step is to back up the ambition with a clear program for action, and this report demonstrates that the building sector is ready for the challenge.”

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