Better Buildings Partnership - Private Members Statement

(2 August 2011, 1.52pm, Parliament House Sydney)

The electorate of Sydney includes the central business district of the global city of Australia. Today I wish to talk about an important partnership that recently has been created, the Better Buildings Partnership, between the Council of the City of Sydney and the 13 major property owners who collectively own nearly 60 per cent of the city's commercial office space. They have agreed to work together to address global warming. The partnership includes AMP Capital Investors, Brookfield Office Properties Australia, Charter Hall, Colonial First State Property Global Asset Management, DEXUS, GPT Group, Investa Property Group, Lend Lease, Mirvac, Stockland, Frasers Property, the University of Sydney, the University of Technology, Sydney, and the City of Sydney.

The recently signed historic memorandum of understanding will make Sydney one of the world's leading green cities. It is the first time major property owners in Australia will work together on a precinct level with city government to take action on climate change. Australia has one of the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world, mainly due to our reliance on dirty coal-fired electricity, which loses about 66 per cent of its energy directly to the atmosphere through heat, with further energy wasted in transmission from distant power stations. Seventy five per cent of Australia's emissions are generated in our cities, particularly from energy consumption in commercial buildings, and 66 percent of Australia's total energy demand in central business districts comes from stationary energy use. It is, therefore, in the commercial buildings of our cities where we need to make the deepest cuts if we are to combat global warming.

Businesses recognise we need to act on climate change and they want to work with governments to take practical action that will not only reduce their emissions but also make them more commercially competitive. Energy efficiency measures are the necessary first step to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but the real game-changing move will be the establishment of green infrastructure such as trigeneration and recycled water networks. The Better Buildings Partnership will help develop commercially viable energy infrastructure to create low-carbon zones across the city. Once the existing regulatory impediments have been removed it will be possible to make trigeneration available to the entire property market.

Producing energy locally instead of bringing it in from the Hunter Valley will reduce pressure on the State's ailing electricity infrastructure and future electricity price rises across the State. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings and providing locally generated energy through green infrastructure hubs is also smart business. It will help Sydney businesses reduce their overheads, create opportunities for new businesses and make our city a better place to live and work. A global survey in January of the world's 700 largest property funds and private landlords named Australia's leading property companies as global environmental leaders. It said:

It is clear that property companies from all over the world can learn from Australian best practices in environmental management.

The City of Sydney has committed to reducing our emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. Our partnership with the 13 Sydney major property owners to develop energy, water and waste systems to reduce our carbon footprint will help us reach that target. Recently the city hosted Professor Ross Garnaut, adviser to the Federal Government on climate change, to present his report during our City Conversations series. He congratulated the City of Sydney on our work and said:

I have seen few, if any, programs to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of the ambition of those embodied in the work program of the City of Sydney.

Garnaut's report warns that, even with current international commitments to reduce carbon emissions, global average temperatures could rise by three or four degrees Celsius, with six degrees a possibility. This is the scenario we are facing and I am proud that the Sydney city council and businesses are leading the way in reducing emissions and costs. For many years the city has worked closely in support of Sydney businesses—from small start-ups through to the big end of town—with grants, programs and business awards. The memorandum of understanding takes this relationship to a whole new level. By working together we will make Sydney one of the world's leading green cities. To all the members who have signed up I express my gratitude for their vision and commitment. Together we will make Sydney one of the world's top sustainable cities.