The Road to Net Zero

As businesses strive to achieve the Net Zero target, what key learnings and challenges are they already coming up against and just how realistic will Net Zero be?

The Road to Net Zero

Climate science is evolving quickly, suggesting that buildings need to move now and move quickly to achieve Net Zero by 2050?

The property industry has a huge carbon footprint. The built environment is responsible for 39% of all global carbon emissions and over 50% of global material use¹. As one of the planet’s worst climate offenders, the industry lead the way in actioning climate change.

Over the past few years, there has been mounting pressure for property owners and developers to impose a Net Zero trajectory and to ‘decarbonise’ their built environments. Indeed, the IPCC Climate Change 2022 Impacts Report highlights the need to reduce net emissions in the built environment sector to zero by 2050,² and to drive resilient outcomes in new and existing buildings.

With carbon reduction pressures existing in many industries, Senior Manager at the Green Building Council of Australia, Jamie Wallis, advises that the built environment is one of the easier industries to put on the Net Zero trajectory. We already know how to reduce emissions within buildings, establish net zero operations, and we know how to retrofit and implement energy efficiencies, etc. With this established proficiency, many believe there is ‘no excuse’ for property managers and owners to ‘opt out’ of climate action.

To meet 2050 targets the industry needs to embrace Net Zero and move rapidly. Luckily, we are already seeing some swift changes from developers and property owners in Australia, who are taking strong action in modifying the design, construction, and operation of their buildings to become carbon neutral.

Recently, GJK invited three sustainability specialists in the building and property industry to discuss the journey towards NetZero. In this insightful webinar, we hear from Jamie Wallis, Alexandra Lawlor and Rebecca Jinks, who consider the trends and drivers shaping the Net Zero journey, and how companies across Australia are achieving climate-positive buildings. The webinar provides interesting insights from these expert panellists, covering the following topics and themes:

  • The overall impact that the property and building industry has had on climate change and the environment.
  • The risks (both direct and transitional) to the industry from climate change.
  • The influences and drivers creating improved climate action in the sector, such as Corporate ESG goals, brand reputation, tenant pressure and the range of regulatory changes and global frameworks, through to more recent drivers such as sustainable financing.
  • The definition of Net Zero and ‘decarbonisation’ as it pertains to the property and real estate industries.
  • Frameworks such as Green Building Council Australia’s Climate Positive roadmap and Cushman & Wakefield Decarbonisation Roadmap, that help building owners establish meaningful and responsible decarbonisation and ratings based on the ‘carbon hierarchy’ of carbon avoidance, energy efficiency, alternative energy generation, and offset for residual carbon.
  • The role that architecture design plays in reducing carbon emissions in the built environment.
  • The Lifecycle design concept focuses on managing and mitigating the use of water, energy, and materials in designing property and built spaces.

The first speaker in the webinar is Jamie Wallis – Senior Manager at the Green Building Council of Australia, followed by Alexandra LawlorArchitectus’ National Leader of Urban Features & Resilience, who has been at the centre of some of the most innovative urban projects in Australia. The last expert panellist is Rebecca Jinks, who works with customers to support their transition to a decarbonised and low-carbon economy.

All experts in this panel agree that to reach 2050 targets there must be rapid action in the property industry, with a holistic consideration of carbon emissions at every stage of the building lifecycle considering construction impacts, fit-out impacts and operational emissions.

While the number of properties in Australia (and the world) that are currently carbon natural are few, we are a collective movement towards making Net Zero a reality for both new and existing built environments. No longer is Net Zero merely seen as ‘the right thing to do’– it has become expected. Achieving Net Zero is a critical path for the industry moving forward – and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the planet is depending on them.

References:
1. Jamie Wallis webinar presentation
2. Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability | Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (ipcc.ch)

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