Net zero apartment buildings

Net zero apartment buildings

Aiming for net zero

Our targets aim to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Paris Agreement. In our area, about 80% of emissions come from energy used in buildings.

The Paris Agreement means most sectors of the global economy need to be net or nearly net zero by 2050 or sooner. To keep average global temperatures from increasing up to 2 degrees, buildings are a logical place to start.

 What is net zero?

Net zero is when a building produces as much energy onsite as it consumes, over a given year. The building must be designed to be as energy efficient as possible and connected to the grid to import and export power as required.

The concept of net zero is gaining global momentum. In Europe and parts of the US, planning will require new buildings to be net zero or nearly net zero. There are already many examples of net zero buildings around the world.

What the City is doing

In 2016 we commissioned energy consultancy firm pitt&sherry to study net zero apartment buildings. The study included modelling 2 actual apartment buildings in Sydney (30-storey) and Melbourne (65-storey).

The results were very encouraging and show net zero residential buildings in Australia are technically feasible and highly cost-effective.

The cost to build a highly efficient net zero building is 7 to 8% more than the cost to meet the minimum requirements under the current building code. When considered against recent property prices this isn't a significant premium to pay for buildings with improved performance, comfort and lower running costs.  

Maximising energy efficiency is much cheaper and less disruptive during design and construction than retrofitting an existing building. Given the long lifetime of buildings, it is imperative building codes are updated to lift short and long-term energy performance targets.

Industry and governments must work together to rapidly transform the market for net zero high-rise residential buildings in Australia. This will help the country meet emissions reduction targets.

The accelerating net zero high-rise residential buildings study was generously funded by the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance.

The alliance is a group of 20 international cities with high emissions reduction targets. This project is relevant for many cities where increasingly more people are living in apartment buildings.

Green Cities 2017 conference

At the conference in March, we hosted a masterclass about accelerating net zero apartment buildings.

Presentations from industry leaders shows there is now significantly greater awareness and new net zero developments. Increasingly, economic opportunities are emerging for developers in renewable energy provision. Net zero needs to be a combination of energy efficiency, onsite and offsite renewables and offsets.

Download a summary of insights that were presented.

Image: Number 1 Bligh Street features trigeneration, solar power and highly efficient double skin façade.

Last updated: Thursday, 8 August 2019