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Australia should aim for zero-carbon buildings by 2030

The Australian Institute of Architects has welcomed the Government’s recently-announced $1.9b investment into lowering emissions, but urges the acceleration of the transition to a carbon neutral economy.

CEO Julia Cambage says while the additional funding for energy productivity measures and the technology investment roadmap are “important steps forward”, there is a further opportunity “to accelerate the pace of change in high-performing sectors like the built environment” by setting an earlier 2030 target.

“This would create dual benefits by increasing jobs while reducing emissions,” Ms Cambage said.

“Energy efficiency measures in our buildings are cost-effective and employment intensive yet they have been relegated to a second tier priority in this first roadmap despite building and construction accounting for nearly 40 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions globally.”

Chair of the Climate Action and Sustainability Taskforce, Professor Helen Lochhead, said they are working to develop a range of policies and programs to create practical solutions for architects to deploy to address these challenges.

“The architectural profession is leading the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while working to ensure our built environment is able to adapt and respond to new climate norms,” Prof Lochhead said.

“Australia must enhance the resilience of our built environment to extreme weather events and predicted climate change impacts.

“Design plays a critical role in integrating systems, including energy, water and waste management as well as local ecologies and culture, to promote human health and well-being.

“Growth in our urban and rural cities means increasing pressures on our natural environment and the crucial ecosystem services they provide such as clean air and cooler urban areas.

“We must create a more sustainable built environment that fosters connectivity and integrates essential resources and functions to mitigate against adverse impacts from climate change.

“To support these efforts, we urge the Australian Government to establish a national plan towards zero carbon buildings and set strong minimum standards for the energy performance of buildings and appliances.

“Incentives for the private sector to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies together with clear targets and timeframes will accelerate the transition to a carbon neutral economy.”

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