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The Fifth Estate
Green buildings and sustainable cities – news and views
The authors of an indepth professional guide for Australia’s built environment to achieve net zero by 2040 this week released a free national reference guide to assist in the transformation.
The guide, Race to Net Zero Carbon: A Climate Emergency Guide for New and Existing Buildings in Australia, was developed by UNSW researchers, led by Professor Deo Prasad, to go beyond aspiration and into the achievable. 
Professor Prasad, who isrecognised as a national leader in the field of sustainable buildings in Australia, said “our guide draws on Australian climate data but has global applicability.”
The 40  page resource  details a holistic “whole of life” approach, covering critical information about materials and construction best practices to help architects, engineers and planners to help transform the industry.
Looking at the wider, global picture, the report shows that across the globe peak bodies, industry associations, government and non-government organisations are laying out pathways towards net zero – with 25 countries publishing net zero plans with initiatives for the built environment.
Australia has a great opportunity to be a leader in net zero construction globally, and in addition, a key contributor in creating innovative new markets for new products and technologies that will benefit the circular economy. 
“While our guide details advanced knowledge and research, practical design approaches, and benchmarks and targets for industry to be informed, there is another vital lever required to make net zero possible,”  Professor Prasad said.
“Governments should mandate net zero construction codes, which will push for best performance to achieve net zero. They should lead by example and ensure all public buildings are net zero carbon and provide subsidies and rebates to incentivise change.
“Most countries will be looking at low embedded carbon products, technologies and systems in the future. The government needs to see this as an opportunity to become a leader by promoting innovation in this space.” 
The challenge in the building industry right now is to get past one-off cases and move into a mainstream situation where net zero construction is the norm. Professor Prasad hopes the guide will also help Australia position itself as a leader in the global race to net zero in construction.  “Our guide has all the knowledge the industry needs to achieve net zero – a roadmap that shows it can be done and, most importantly, the type of conversation clients can have with designers or government,” he said.
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What is meant by ” Australia’s built environment”.? If it is restricted to a building’s operation ie it has enough solar to be off-grid, stores its rainwater and disposes of its garbage as well as its grey and black water somehow then yes this should be possible for new buildings but harder for existing ones. But if you take into account emissions created by construction and demolition then the answer is no.