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Proposed measures progress Sydney towards net-zero building goals

The City of Sydney has worked with industry and government to develop ambitious performance standard step changes for new office buildings, hotels and shopping centres.

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Buildings in the city's central business district. Photo: Katherine Griffiths/CityofSydney
Buildings in the city's central business district. Photo: Katherine Griffiths/CityofSydney

The City of Sydney is proposing that development applications (DAs) 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 $1.3bn on energy bills for investors, businesses and occupants from 2023 to 2040, and help the City meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2035.

 

Emissions reduction

 

Lord mayor Clover Moore highlighted that commercial office space, hotels and apartment buildings contribute two-thirds (68 per cent) of total emissions in Sydney’s local government area (LGA). “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.”

 

Moore added: “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 programme help us reach our target of net-zero emissions by 2035, it will provide energy savings of more than $1.3bn 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 City’s new planning controls will combine energy efficiency and the use of on-site 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.

 

Moore said the ambitious green building performance standards – a first for any Australian local council – have been created with support from developers, industry bodies, consultants and government agencies.

“Not only will this programme help us reach our target of net-zero emissions by 2035, it will provide energy savings of more than $1.3bn for investors, businesses and occupants across Greater Sydney”

“The action we take locally will help reduce emissions and contribute to a positive Covid-19 business recovery for Greater Sydney.

 

“The performance standards and evidence base can be used by all councils across Greater Sydney and will support investment in renewable energy and create jobs in regional areas – as we have already done through our investment in wind farms and solar farms in Inverell, Nowra and Wagga Wagga.

Lendlease is on net-zero carbon pathway. Photo: Daramu House/Lucy Sharman/LendLease
Lendlease is on net-zero carbon pathway. Photo: Daramu House/Lucy Sharman/LendLease

“The climate challenge is one that we can only meet with concerted action. The more we can work together and exchange information, knowledge and experiences, the greater our ability to meet the NSW Government net-zero emissions target and allow us to continue to create truly liveable cities.”

 

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

 

Neil Arckless, Lendlease 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,” he said.

 

Financial benefits

 

The measures 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 $1.8bn. The planning controls also support the NSW Government’s renewable energy zones through investment, and create demand for jobs and new skills in energy efficiency.

 

The performance standards address requirements in the Greater Sydney region plan and respond to local, state and industry goals, including the NSW net zero plan and electricity strategy, district plans to reduce carbon emissions and sustainability actions in local planning.

 

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