Govt urged to act on sustainable social infrastructure

Monday, 31 May, 2021

Govt urged to act on sustainable social infrastructure

The Australian and New Zealand Green Building Councils are urging governments to unlock the benefits of sustainable, resilient social infrastructure to accelerate the transition to a climate-resilient and net zero emission future.

The recommendation was made in the report ‘Green Star in focus: the case for sustainable social infrastructure’, which highlights the need for better decision-making to manage climate impacts for the buildings and spaces that support our way of life, and calls on governments to lead the way through their purchasing power.

“Australia is increasingly exposed to shocks created by natural hazards and has already incurred significant costs from damage to our infrastructure and our communities,” Green Building Council of Australia CEO Davina Rooney said.

“Governments can show leadership by taking action to build more sustainable, resilient infrastructure that helps us to mitigate the risks of climate change, adapts and futureproofs our cities.”

A 2020 survey found that 80% of Australians believe climate action is necessary. Rooney said sustainable social infrastructure can meet these expectations and provide a financially responsible solution to the emissions challenge.

“Sustainable infrastructure can give our communities the healthy, efficient and sustainable places they are asking for. Green Star-certified buildings use 66% less electricity than other Australian buildings, and when applied to infrastructure these savings could be reinvested back into communities,” Rooney explained.

New Zealand Green Building Council Chief Executive Andrew Eagles said the built environment plays a key role in boosting New Zealand’s economy and wants the sector to play a similar role in a greener, healthier, zero-carbon Aotearoa.

“Buildings and construction make up 20% of New Zealand’s carbon footprint. This means that without slashing the carbon pollution from construction and infrastructure, we’re going to miss our international obligations on climate change.

“Our government has a key obligation. They’re spending billions of dollars right now on infrastructure. But if there is no clear direction from our politicians that climate change must be taken into account when building these projects, it’s going to cause pollution to soar, and saddle the country with unhealthy, inefficient schools, hospitals and other public buildings,” Eagles said.

Image caption: McAuley Community School is an example of how schools can provide positive learning spaces for students, whilst minimising their impact on the environment.

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