24 January 2009

Fact sheet: energy efficiency

Fact sheet included in the Coalition's press release on its proposed Green Carbon Initiative.


What is it?

Reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by incorporating a variety of technologies and design features (such as passive heating/cooling) and retrofits (such as insulation).

  • According to the Green Building Council of Australia, 97% of existing Australian buildings are too old to have been built with energy efficient features1.
  • Energy-efficient buildings have been cited as a major opportunity for low-cost (and often self-funding) carbon emissions abatement by respected climate change authorities and researchers including the United Nations IPCC, the Stern Report, the Garnaut Review2, and McKinsey & Co3.
  • Globally, the IPCC found that by 2030 about 30% of global projected greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in buildings can be avoided at minimal or zero economic cost.
  • Locally, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ABSEC) estimates 27-31% of existing emissions from buildings can be abated at zero net cost - but the price signal contained in the Rudd Government’s CPRS will deliver less than one fifth this amount. ASBEC estimated by 2030 abatement of 60 Mt per year was achievable – about 11% of Australia’s 2006 emissions4.
  • McKinsey & Co estimates the Australian building sector can, by 2020, achieve emission reductions close to 50 Mt of CO2e – about 8% of 2006 emissions.
  • The Centre for International Economics estimates cuts of 39-45 Mt of CO2e can be achieved at a low cost (or net gain)5.
  • Many green retrofit options are financially self-funding over time. Estimates for the payoff horizon for retrofitting an average existing building are in the 8-11 year range.
  • Policy options to deliver gains from energy efficiency include:
    • Education campaigns to overcome information inefficiencies and alert building owners to the net economic savings from retrofits.
    • Accelerated depreciation for green retrofit expenditure.
    • Increased capital expenditure investment allowance for green capex.
    • Selective retrofit of existing government buildings.
    • Constructing new government buildings to Green Star standard.
    • Routine assessments of any regulatory burdens imposed on building owners, to ensure measures to encourage energy efficiency are not a drag on the economy.
  • The Rudd Government has failed to so far provide a $500 rebate for the installation of insulation in rental properties - 18 months after it was first promised.

1 Green Building Council of Australia, the Dollars and Sense of Green Buildings 2008, found at http://www.aela.org.au/publications/Dollars_and_Sense.pdf
2 The Garnaut Climate Change Review, found at http://www.garnautreview.org.au/index.htm
3 McKinsey & Co., An Australian Cost Curve for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, 2008 found at http://www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/ccsi/pdf/Australian_Cost_Curve_for_GHG_Reduction.pdf
4 http://www.asbec.asn.au/files/ASBEC%20CCTG%20Second%20Plank%20Report%202.0_0.pdf
5 “Building Energy Efficiency” CIE February 2008 at http://www.thecie.com.au/content/news/Final%20CIE_TPB_Perth%20(with%20animations).pdf

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