The Property Council and Green Building Council have released a report to help guide local, state and federal governments on how to achieve 'net zero energy' buildings by 2030.
Launched by the federal Energy Minister, Every Building Counts sets out 75 policy recommendations for emissions reduction in the built environment. This follows news the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will support Mirvac to build a $350 million 'net zero' housing estate. These Australian developments are indicative of the global move towards sustainable development.
In the US property and energy sectors, buildings that produce as much energy as they consume (net zero) are a hot topic, along with the developing role electric vehicles, battery storage and microgrids could play in urban design.
In California, the goal is for all new residential construction to be net zero by 2020. Policies aimed at achieving zero carbon buildings have also been introduced in many other US states.
I recently visited a 'passive house' certified 'net zero' apartment building in San Francisco. Sitting on the building rooftop under a double-sided solar panel canopy, the developer explained that, while he had moved into sustainable building because he believed it was important, he benefited from the growing demand for homes that offer energy autonomy and protection against rising electricity prices.
Across a range of markets from housing to clothing, consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for sustainability which, in turn, is creating business opportunities. The conscious consumer market in the US is estimated to be worth $300 billion and is a key focus of companies including Lego and Google.
Qantas has announced it will achieve zero net emissions by 2050 with chief Alan Joyce explaining it is the responsible thing to do, and will hopefully also encourage more people to choose Qantas and Jetstar.
The Hunter is well placed to participate in the growing sustainability market. We have exceptional engineering and manufacturing businesses, along with architects who are embracing cutting edge design. Developers are also quick to respond to changes in demand.
As the Every Building Counts industry incentives are introduced, we can look forward to many new opportunities for the region's nimble businesses which are ready to 'ride the green wave'.