Roadmap for achieving net-zero carbon buildings by 2040
Researchers at the University of New South Wales have produced a free online guide to help architects, engineers and planners create a net-zero carbon built environment by 2040. Race to net zero carbon: A climate emergency guide for new and existing buildings in Australia is a national reference guide that details critical information about best practice materials and construction for whole-of-life net zero carbon buildings. “Historically, most professionals have only focused on reducing the operational carbon footprints of buildings,” said professor Deo Prasad, lead researcher of the guide. “There are significant amounts of emissions embedded in the materials and construction of the building itself and these need to be addressed and offset in order for our built environment to be truly net zero.” The guide advocates for retrofitting existing buildings and reducing the use of new material as the best way to minimise embodied carbon. However, when that is not possible, the guide provides a roadmap for low-carbon materials such as green steel and concrete. Globally, the built environment accounts for 37 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and in Australian the built environment is responsible for 21 percent of the country’s emissions. “While the global community is aiming for net zero by 2050, the building sector has much greater potential and opportunity to reach net-zero operational emissions by 2030 and a 60 percent reduction in embodied carbon by 2030,” Prasad said. “These are the goals our guide aims to achieve.” He added that, “Governments should mandate net-zero construction codes, which will push for best performance to achieve net zero. They should lead by example and ensure all public buildings are net zero carbon and provide subsidies and rebates to incentivise change.