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Australian Constructors Association pushes toward net zero for construction industry

The Australian construction sector accounts for about 18.1% of Australia’s carbon footprint, according to a paper published in ScienceDirect titled 'The Carbon Footprint of Australia's Construction Sector' by Man Yu et al.

The Australian Constructors Association (ACA) has recognised the need for organised, systemic reform in the construction industry to reduce the carbon impact of the sector and fulfil Australia’s net zero ambitions, today releasing a pivotal report detailing the subject.

Multi-pronged approach needed

ACA CEO Jon Davies said construction was a ‘hard to abate’ sector and while electrification was the preferred decarbonisation pathway, technology constraints meant this would not be available in the short to medium term.

“We need to rapidly adopt low carbon liquid fuels to bridge the gap until electric options mature and the best transition fuel for the construction industry is renewable diesel,” Davies said.

“ACA is calling for direct government policy intervention to rapidly accelerate both the supply and demand for renewable diesel in Australia.

“Renewable diesel enables necessary emission reductions in the short term without modifications to existing machinery.

“The problem is, there is currently no domestic renewable diesel production in Australia - this reflects a policy vacuum that lags other countries significantly.

“Importing renewable diesel is cost prohibitive relative to mineral diesel, making adoption a competitive disadvantage.”

The ACA’s report suggests a domestic renewable diesel industry would have far-reaching benefits beyond decarbonisation of the construction industry – the organisation is urging the Federal Government to pursue a low-carbon liquid fuel policy to chart a course for a sustainable domestic renewable diesel industry.

Academia weighs in

Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney have also been looking into the issue.

They have developed a national reference guide they believe will help Australia reach its net zero targets, detailing information about materials and construction best practices to help architects, engineers and planners transform the building industry towards net zero carbon buildings.

“Our guide draws on Australian climate data but has global applicability,” says Professor Deo Prasad, who is lead researcher of the guide.

Prasad is recognised as a national leader in the field of sustainable buildings and among the leading advocates for sustainability in Australia.

“This guide provides a deeper level of knowledge on how this sector can rapidly move towards net zero carbon buildings in the short term,” Prof Prasad explained.

“Using science-based evidence and analytics, the guide maps a clear roadmap to achieving net zero by 2040 in the building industry. It goes beyond the aspirational and into the achievable.”

Taken from the Proactive Australia Media Release on March 19, 2024

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