Greens want commercial buildings to be net zero by 2040

Scott Ludlam

The Greens have released a buildings plan that sets a target for all commercial buildings to hit net zero by 2040.

The Green Building Plan also includes the re-establishment of the Major Cities Unit, a $100 million a year CEFC fund for large-scale retrofits of mid-tier buildings, $50 million a year to help new buildings get a 6 Star Green Star rating, and $10.1 million over the forward estimates to increase the uptake of Environmental Upgrade Agreements.

Coming in at just over a quarter of a billion – $258 million – over the forward estimates, it’s not cheap, but the Greens think it can both set high standards for new buildings while refurbishing an estimated 80,000 mid-tier offices across Australia to net zero by 2040.

While the CEFC already has a number of programs targeted at commercial buildings, the Greens see the need for a fund specifically targeting mid-tier offices, shopping centres, schools, hospitals, hotels and SMEs, which comprise around 52 million square metres of the 64 million square metres of office space in Australia.

The $50 million “innovation top up fund” would contribute up to two per cent of construction costs to get new buildings to hit 6 Star Green Star or equivalent, and is based on research that Green Star ratings can be achieved for between one and three per cent of construction costs.

Local councils would be encouraged to push the case for EUAs by being paid $5 for every tonne of carbon abated through commercial building EUAs in the local government area.

Greens spokesman on cities and co-deputy leader Scott Ludlam said the potential of the program was enormous, as commercial buildings accounted for 10 per cent of national emissions.

“With refurbished electrics and upgraded appliances, businesses have the potential to save thousands of dollars a year on their energy and water bills,” he said.

The plan also sees $10 million towards a green roof and wall fund, as well as the requirement for buildings receiving government funds to include green roofs or walls.

“Not only does this look beautiful, it dramatically cools our cities as our summers get hotter,” Mr Ludlam said.

“At the same time we can cool our cities from a local level and do our bit to curb global warming.”

To help with the transition to net zero, the Greens would like to see the “urgent review and upgrade” of the National Construction Code so it sets a trajectory to 2040, as well as an amendment to include end-of-trip facilities for bikes.

A Greens policy statement said both major parties had stalled on matters of buildings and efficiency.

“The Coalition’s first budget abolished the National Urban Policy, which was driving innovation and sustainability of the built environment, and discontinued the Liveable Cities scheme, which provided funding for world-class new build demonstration projects,” a Greens release said.

“They have attempted to abolish the CEFC numerous times. Disappointingly, Labor voted with the Coalition when they scrapped the effective, low-cost Energy Efficiency Opportunities Scheme, which helped businesses cut energy use and power bills.”

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