Industry bodies call on Government to make every building count in economic recovery

by Ben Ice
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Commercial building upgrades are a key opportunity highlighted in a report issued by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), Energy Efficiency Council, Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and Property Council of Australia.

The agenda leverages recommendations from the flagship report ‘Every Building Counts’, which highlights ways that energy efficiency building programs can boost construction activity and jobs while addressing long-term challenges such as the transition to net zero emissions.

“Our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must be about job creation, driving business activity and ensuring we’re on a pathway to emissions reduction,” says Davina Rooney, chief executive of the GBCA. “Energy efficient buildings present a huge opportunity to deliver on all of these fronts. Energy efficiency is jobs intensive, and historically we’ve seen many governments investing in building performance upgrades following major economic disasters to great effect.”

Key opportunities highlighted in ‘Building Efficiency for Jobs and Growth’ include:

  • driving commercial building upgrades through tax incentives and establishing a ‘Smart Building Fund’ to support mid-tier building owners to rate and guide the upgrade of their buildings
  • improving the comfort and performance of residential homes through targeted equipment upgrades and incentives for deeper retrofits, with a priority for social housing, and low income and vulnerable households
  • upgrading schools and hospitals and other government owned and occupied buildings, with the a Commonwealth commitment to match funding from state and territory governments up to $150 million in each jurisdiction
  • empowering building owners, buyers and renters with a single national rating scheme for home energy performance and prioritising its development in line with the recent recommendations from the King Review, and
  • undertaking a rapid review of skills needs around energy efficiency, and roll out priority measures to support workers transitioning from other sectors.

“These recommendations answer the call for high-quality buildings and infrastructure, and carry the potential to create more than 90,000 job years of employment through jobs-rich projects that make the most of local supply chains,” says Luke Menzel, chief executive at the Energy Efficiency Council. “We know that investments in energy efficient buildings bring many benefits for our businesses, households and industry, from energy bill savings, reduced pressure on the energy system to greater sector competitiveness and improved health and well-being outcomes for vulnerable Australians.”

“While buildings are responsible for almost a quarter of our national emissions, most of the solutions required to decarbonise the sector are already mature and available,” says Suzanne Toumbourou, executive director of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council. “The challenge is for these solutions to become widely deployed.”

Photo by Annie Basile on Unsplash

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