Australia’s buildings could halve their energy use within a decade, to make a major contribution to reducing the nation’s carbon emissions – and save money on energy bills in the long run as well.
A large crowd packed out an auditorium at Melbourne University to hear this message at the launch of the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan on 8 August 2013.
The report, from climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and the University’s Melbourne Energy Institute, is “the largest crowd-sourced research project yet, and has maintained high academic quality,” said Dominique Hes, University of Melbourne senior lecturer in Architecture, addressing the launch.
(Free download of the full plan from the above link)
The report was unveiled by lead author and project director Trent Hawkins, before a panel of three industry experts including Hes, Brenda Kingston from consultancy WSP Built Ecology, and Mark Allan from the Property Council of Australia.
“We can choose to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to lock in fossil fuel use, or retrofit our buildings for the future now,” explained Mr Hawkins in his presentation.
Hawkins criticised pollution record of the growing coal-seam gas industry, and told the audience that more efficient electric appliances meant gas should become a thing of the past. “Emissions from unconventional gas are much higher than previously assumed,” he said.
Hawkins called for the Rudd government’s previous Home Insulation Program to be continued – but to “Go the whole hog. We want to insulate roofs, walls and under floors too.”
Hawkins told the audience that Australia’s homes could supply more energy annually than they use, from 31 gigawatts worth of solar panels that would fit on the nation’s house roofs.
“Homes can become solar power stations, and overall generate the equivalent of about four-and-a-half Hazelwood power stations’ output,” Hawkins said.
The proposal to phase out gas use generated some debate from the panel, but all three panellists were positive about the Plan. Mark Allan praised the “can-do” attitude that came with the Plan’s “big vision”.
The Melbourne launch is to be followed by public launches in Brisbane on Monday 12 August, and Sydney on Wednesday 14 August.
The panellists: Left to right: Brenda Kingston, Mark Allan, Trent Hawkins, Dominique Hes: Photos by Matt Stirling.