The federal government has launched the National Carbon Offset Standards for buildings and precincts following close collaboration with industry professionals, the Australian Government and the Green Building Council of Australia and industry.
The standards – which were written to be in line with the principles set out in WorldGBC’s Advancing Net Zero project — enable building owners to calculate the emissions from their properties, reduce them as much as possible, and then purchase carbon offsets or carbon credits equivalent to any remaining emissions to achieve net zero carbon (or carbon neutrality).
GBCA’s Jorge Chapa said years of discussion and debate about what constitutes a carbon neutral building or precinct have now been settled.
“We have clear definitions of carbon neutral buildings and precincts in operation, and voluntary standards which can help owners to demonstrate their assets meet these definitions.”
After the NCOS was officially launched on Monday by Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg, it was made clear that building owners can use GBCA’s Green Star – Performance certification or the NABERS Energy rating process as pathways to demonstrate compliance.
GBCA was one of the first Green Building Councils to commit to introducing a net zero carbon building certification following the COP21 climate change conference in Paris in 2015, and is participating in the Advancing Net Zero project.
Chapa said large tenants, such as banks, as well as real estate investment trusts, will be the first to embrace the standards.
“Large tenants already working towards carbon neutral operations across their entire businesses will be looking for buildings that align with their commitment. We now have the standards to demonstrate this,” he said.
To become carbon neutral, building owners must calculate their emissions, reduce these emissions as much as possible, and then purchase carbon offsets or carbon credits equivalent to the remaining emissions.
Carbon neutral certification will not require another layer of paperwork. Building owners can use the robust Green Star – Performance or NABERS Energy rating process to demonstrate compliance.
“With no agreed definition, the cost to demonstrate carbon neutrality was once prohibitive for all but the most committed companies. Now, we’ve made it simple for asset owners to demonstrate carbon neutrality through a cost-effective and streamlined process,” Chapa said.
The industry can now get to work on delivering carbon neutrality. The big question is: Which company will be the first to achieve a carbon neutral portfolio?”
The standards support the goal of a global project by the World Green Building Council, of which the Green Building Council of Australia is a member, to ensure all buildings are net zero carbon by 2050.
GBCA is one of 14 Green Building Councils participating in Advancing Net Zero, and is the fourth GBC to launch a net zero carbon building standard following France, Canada and Brazil.