Exploring measurement of the uptake of sustainability in the built environment through building permit data

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Conference Proceeding
RICS COBRA 2013, 2013, pp. 1 - 8
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The built environment emits 40% of total greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change through sustainable adaptation is a priority. Typically 1 to 2% is added to the total building stock annually and around 87% of the stock most developed countries will have in 2050, is already built. It follows that precise data in respect of the sustainability measures incorporated into new and existing buildings is recorded and quantified. The benefits are that built environment related GHG reductions may be measured and quantified over time and that policy and regulations may be made more efficient and their effectiveness may be enhanced due the basis of empirical evidence. Cities such as Melbourne, Australia have adopted carbon neutral strategies to deliver emissions reductions which are largely directed to building adaptation. Melbourne aims to be carbon neutral by 2020 and has a target of 1,200 sustainable retrofits to deliver 38% GHG reductions. Whilst some owners use tools to demonstrate sustainability, most do not. Furthermore these sustainable adaptations and new builds number so few they will not deliver sufficient reductions. Predictions of significant increases in gas and electricity consumption in buildings present challenges to policy makers, professional practitioners and the community at large and a method of calculating all building related carbon emissions is required. The framework for quantifying emissions reductions in the total building stock over time is fragmented and largely undeveloped. Existing efforts largely focus on individual buildings. This paper reports the findings of two focus groups held in Canberra and Melbourne in 2012 with key stakeholders to explore the viability of such a proposal within the Australia regulatory system.
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