Australia: National Carbon Offset Standard expanded to buildings, precincts, cities

The federal government has announced the National Carbon Offset Standard will be extended to buildings, precincts and cities, expanding the standard’s reach from carbon neutral businesses, products, services and events.

A statement from federal environment minister Greg Hunt said the move was in response to requests from industry, cities and the community to expand the scheme, which provides carbon neutral certification.

Mr Hunt said the government was now in the process of establishing an expert committee for carbon neutral precincts and cities, with the goal to have Australia’s first officially certified and operating carbon neutral precinct or city by January 2017.

The committee will have representation from major cities, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, the Green Building Council of Australia, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System and the CRC for Low Carbon Living.

“This is an exciting development. Australia’s cities consistently rank amongst the most liveable in the world – and the Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring this continues,” Mr Hunt said.

“The committee will also work towards a carbon neutral certification for Australia’s buildings.”

The news was welcomed by the GBCA, who announced at last year’s COP 21 meeting in Paris its intention to introduce net zero certification for buildings in 2016.

“We applaud the Turnbull Government’s commitment to expand the standard to include buildings, cities and precincts, and are delighted to participate in the expert committee,” GBCA chief executive Romilly Madew said.

“Our cities are responsible for as much as 80 per cent of our national energy consumption, which means they are at the frontline of any efforts to tackle climate change.”

Ms Madew said that to limit global warming to less than 2°C, ways to encourage industry to deliver more sustainable development were crucial.

“We know how to deliver low-carbon buildings and we are seeing great leadership at the community scale emerging with projects such as the Green Star-rated Tonsley in South Australia, Aura and Ecco Ripley in Queensland and Alkimos Beach in Western Australia. Now, it’s time for us to up the ante and focus on delivering zero-carbon buildings and precincts,” she said.

“To do this, we need a credible, rigorous and broadly accepted method that provides a clear definition of carbon neutral buildings, and provides certainty to investors, tenants and building owners. Expanding the National Carbon Offset Standard will allow Australia’s property industry to be recognised for creating and operating carbon neutral buildings, precincts and entire cities.”

This story was published with permission from The Fifth Estate.

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