City of Sydney to include energy targets in new development applications

The City of Sydney has announced an Australia-first plan to include energy targets in development applications in a bid to make new buildings more energy-efficient and support the transition to net-zero emissions. 

Under the City of Sydney’s proposal, development applications for new office buildings, hotels and shopping centres, and major redevelopments of existing buildings must comply with minimum energy ratings from January 2023, and achieve net-zero energy output by 2026.

According to Lord Mayor Clover Moore, the measures are expected to save more than $1.3 billion on energy bills for investors, businesses and occupants from 2023 to 2040, and help Sydney meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2035.

“Energy use in buildings is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions,” Cr Moore said.

“Commercial office space, hotels and apartment buildings contribute 68 per cent of total emissions in our Local Government Area. 

“If we’re to meet our target of net-zero emissions by 2035, we need to ensure this sector is contributing to emissions reduction through increased energy efficiency, on-site renewable energy production and off-site renewable energy procurement.”

Cr Moore said the council had worked with industry and government to develop performance changes “that are ambitious but achievable”.

“We’re providing a clear pathway and time for developers to improve energy performance and transition to net-zero buildings.”

She said the policy would ensure sustainability and resilience were at the core of the city’s business recovery strategy as it emerged from the effects of the pandemic. 

“The action we take locally will help reduce emissions and contribute to a positive COVID-19 business recovery for Greater Sydney,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The performance standards and evidence base can be used by all councils across Greater Sydney and will support investment in renewable energy and create jobs in regional areas – as we have already done through our investment in wind farms and solar farms in Inverell, Nowra, and Wagga Wagga.

“The more we can work together and exchange information, knowledge and experiences, the greater our ability to meet the NSW Government net-zero emissions target.


Sydney’s new energy targets have been endorsed by developers, property owners, and industry groups.

Greater Sydney Commission environment commissioner Emma Herd said the changing climate was a shared problem and accelerated industry and government action was needed to address warming temperatures.

“These performance standards will help us meet our shared goal of net zero emissions and deliver progress against the Greater Sydney region plan low carbon city objective,” Ms Herd said.

“I would encourage councils across the Greater Sydney region to look at these performance standards as a useful tool for achieving environmental targets of net zero emissions and sustainability actions in their local strategic planning statements.”

Lendlease executive development director Neil Arckless also said his organisation supported the ambitious performance standards.

“At Lendlease we recently set our own pathway to net zero carbon by 2025 and absolute zero by 2040,” Mr Arckless said. 

“We are always pushing the boundaries to innovate in sustainability and welcome the City of Sydney leading the way in the development of these performance standards. 

“I’m confident we can all rise to the challenge.”

Stockland CEO Commercial Property Louise Mason said the company strongly endorsed the City’s net-zero energy buildings performance standards.

“We have brought forward our target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions to 2028 and extended the commitment across our entire portfolio, covering close to 170 active assets and projects Australia-wide,” Ms Mason said.

According to Sydney City Council, the measures are expected to save office owners $2750 per 1000sq m of floor area a year, and hotel owners $170 per hotel room.

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Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson was the news editor for Elite Agent. He worked with the company from February 2020 to June 2020. For current stories, news alerts or pitches, please email

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