22 December, 2016
For many years now, Australia has been exposed to negative climate change. As a result of this, it has had to endure extreme weather events, flooding in the coastal cities, rising sea levels, and the death of coral reefs and marine life. But thankfully, it helped bring the issues to light for them to be addressed.
In 2013, a net-zero house model called the Illawarra Flame which was built by Team UOW in a competition held in Datong, China was submitted. It won gold and multiple other awards in different categories such as engineering, architecture and application. It was then that the project earned fame and caught the eye of many investors, entrepreneurs and government institutions.
The concept and designing of a zero-net home soon become a preferable alternative for companies who were responsible for emitting excessive greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, proving to be a powerful tool in fighting it. But before we find out how Australia plans to opt for sustainable office by incorporating plants in their indoors or as outdoor designs, lets briefly understand what a zero-energy, zero-net or zero-positive building actually refers to.
A zero-net building is basically a building that does not consume excess energy. It means that the total consumption of energy by the building equals to the amount of renewable energy the organization creates annually. In simpler terms, it means that the corporation consumes only as much energy as it can produce, accomplishing a sustainable equilibrium between the availability of water and its demand, eliminating all forms of waste previously sent to landfills.
Sustainability Talks at the Sustainable Development Goals Australia 2016 Conference
The two-day Sustainable Development Goals Australia 2016 conference held from 29-30th November 2016 was held at the University of Sydney. Bringing together participants from government, academia, civil society and business sectors under one roof to discuss the 169 point checklist issued by the United Nations, it presented a roadmap to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals in Australia. Addressing the issue of increasing negative climatic changes, experts agreed that zero-net can be a big part of the solution. The figures suggest that 30% of all greenhouse gases production is by industries. According to Jorge Chapa, head of market transformation at the Green Building Council of Australia, “It is possible for buildings to achieve net zero environmental impact— that is, in terms of energy consumption, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions. But the number of buildings in Australia that have fulfilled these targets is insignificant.”
Jorge believes that more buildings should get on board with this idea. He plans to launch a new certification for buildings who have achieved net zero.
The city of Sydney aims to reach net zero emissions by the end of 2050 and has pledged to do so.
According to Sydney’s senior sustainability manager Anna Mitchell, there are some challenges on the way to make that happen. She highlighted a few issues which included the way how the transition might make the resources unaffordable or inaccessible for some of the locals, give rise to the housing stress experienced by people who have a middle-to-low income and can’t afford to live near their workplace, and the hurdles in reducing emissions in a city which has a growing population. She further insisted that urban planners also face inequality issues by remarking, “The more unequal our city is, and the less resilient it will be.”