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Minimum Energy Ratings for Buildings – Sydney's Journey to Net-Zero 

Minimum Energy Ratings for Buildings – Sydney's Journey to Net-Zero 
15 June 2021 | Updated 09 August 2021
 

New buildings will be more energy efficient, use more renewable energy and support the transition to net-zero emissions under an Australia-first plan to include energy targets in development applications.

Proposals for new office buildings, hotels and shopping centres and major redevelopments of existing buildings must comply with minimum energy ratings from January 2023, and achieve net-zero energy output by 2026.

The measures are expected to save more than $1.3 billion on energy bills for investors, businesses and occupants from 2023 to 2040, and help Sydney meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2035.

The new planning controls will combine energy efficiency and the use of onsite and offsite renewables to move buildings towards net zero energy use. Including the option to use offsite renewable energy purchases is another first for local planning controls in Australia.

 

“Commercial office space, hotels and apartment buildings contribute 68 per cent of total emissions in our local government area. If we’re to meet our target of net-zero emissions by 2035, we need to ensure this sector is contributing to emissions reduction through increased energy efficiency, on-site renewable energy production and off-site renewable energy procurement."

– Clover Moore

Lord Mayor of Sydney 

 

 

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

 

Sydney's goal is fifteen years ahead of the UK's net-zero by 2050 target, and therefore may act as a case study of interest as to the implementation of carbon controlling measures.

Comparing the minimum energy standards for buildings with current UK legislation, under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) introduced in the UK in 2018, it’s unlawful for landlords to grant new leases or renewals of existing ones on commercial properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) below E.

By April 2023, MEES will apply to all privately rented property, making it an offence to continue to let a commercial space with an F or G EPC rating even in the middle of a lease term.

 

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Financial Savings from Net-Zero Measures

 

The new plans are expected to deliver substantial financial benefits. Annually office owners will save $2,750 per 1,000 square metres of floor area and hotel owners $170 per hotel room.

There are also additional public benefits and savings in health, energy network and emissions costs, worth around $1.8 billion. The planning controls also support the New South Wales government's renewable energy zones through investment, and create demand for jobs and new skills in energy efficiency.

 

Sustainability and COVID Recovery

 

“Energy use in buildings is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions,” the Lord Mayor of Sydney said.

“Commercial office space, hotels and apartment buildings contribute 68 per cent of total emissions in our local government area. If we’re to meet our target of net-zero emissions by 2035, we need to ensure this sector is contributing to emissions reduction through increased energy efficiency, on-site renewable energy production and off-site renewable energy procurement.

“We have worked with industry and government to develop performance standard step changes that are ambitious, but achievable. We’re providing a clear pathway and time for developers to improve energy performance and transition to net zero buildings.

“Not only will this program help us reach our target of net-zero emissions by 2035, it will provide energy savings of more than $1.3 billion for investors, businesses and occupants across Greater Sydney. As we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic, we’re helping ensure sustainability and resilience is at the core of business recovery.

“The action we take locally will help reduce emissions and contribute to a positive COVID business recovery for Greater Sydney."

 

Lendlease and Stockland Commercial Property

 

The new energy targets have the backing of leading developers, property owners and industry groups.

Neil Arckless, Lendlease's Executive Development Director, said his organisation supported the ambitious performance standards:

“At Lendlease we recently set our own pathway to net zero carbon by 2025 and absolute zero by 2040. We are always pushing the boundaries to innovate in sustainability and welcome the City of Sydney leading the way in the development of these performance standards. I’m confident we can all rise to the challenge,” Arckless said.

Stockland Commercial Property's CEO Louise Mason said the company strongly endorsed the City’s net-zero energy buildings performance standards.

“We have brought forward our target to achieve net zero carbon emissions to 2028 and extended the commitment across our entire portfolio, covering close to 170 active assets and projects Australia-wide,” Mason said.

Picture: a photograph of Sydney's harbour

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 15 June 2021

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