A new advocacy agenda underscores how investment in energy efficient buildings can create jobs, drive business activity and set Australia on the right path to emissions reduction.
Building efficiency for jobs and growth is the fruit of a collaboration between the Green Building Council of Australia, Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, the Energy Efficiency Council and the Property Council.
The platform leverages recommendations from the Every building counts report and highlights how energy efficiency building programs can boost construction activity and jobs while addressing 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 the GBCA’s CEO Davina Rooney.
“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.”
Energy Efficiency Council CEO Luke Menzel says the recommendations “answer the call for high quality buildings and infrastructure, and carry the potential to create more than 90,000 job years of employment”.
Menzel emphasises the “many benefits” of energy efficiency: energy bill savings, reduced pressure on the energy system, greater sector competitiveness and improved health and wellbeing for vulnerable Australians among them.
Suzanne Toumbourou, ASBEC’s executive director, says buildings are responsible for almost a quarter of our national emissions. Most decarbonisation solutions are “already mature and available” but the challenge “is for these solutions to become widely deployed”.
Key opportunities highlighted include:
- Improve 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
- Drive commercial building upgrades through tax incentives and establish a ‘Smart Building Fund’ to support mid-tier building owners to rate and guide the upgrade of their buildings
- Embark on an ambitious program to upgrade schools and hospitals and other government owned and occupied buildings with the federal government committing to match funding from state and territory governments up to $150m in each jurisdiction
- Empower building owners, buyers and renters with a single national rating scheme for home energy performance and prioritise its development in line with the recent recommendations from the King Review
- Undertake a rapid review of skills needs around energy efficiency and roll out priority measures to support workers transitioning from other sectors.
Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison says Australia’s long-term prosperity depends on dealing with a range of long-term challenges, including the transition to net zero emissions.
“Business, industry and consumer groups are united in calling on the government to make sure that our economic recovery efforts include a focus on addressing this issue. We know that buildings can accelerate emissions reduction and energy transitions,” Morrison concludes.
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