How Can Residential Buildings Bring Us A Carbon-Neutral Future?

Carbon-neutral buildings reduce reduce CO2e with live plants

As politicians agree to carbon-neutral targets in an effort to address climate change, innovation is rippling across the residential building and construction sectors. Activity constructing carbon-neutral buildings, residential apartments and retro-fitting properties is picking up pace. It’s a trend that’s growing in Australia, and other countries, as they race toward their climate targets.

Here we take a look at the progress already made at home and how we compare with the rest of the world. Carbon-neutral targets will benefit all of us, not least of all, those living in harsher climates.

The race to net-zero

To reach the high bars for lowering carbon emissions in our world, our governments, both state, national and global, have set some bold targets, backed with innovative action. Nationally, Australia has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. Legislation has also been passed to have emissions 43% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Queensland plans to run on 70% renewable energy sources by 2032 – just nine years from now. South Australia is aiming to have their emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, in line with the latest national targets. In other parts of the world, it’s a similar story. The UK, USA and New Zealand are all aiming for net zero by 2050.

Just two nations have gone beyond the golden target of carbon neutrality already. Bhutan became carbon-negative in 2020, thanks, in part, to the vast forests covering the island. Their new carbon-negative status has been secured with a policy to ensure at least 60% of them remain. Suriname took a similar tactic but is pledging to go further by banning internal combustion engine cars in their capital.

Residential carbon footprints

Residential property accounts for around 21% of global emissions. In Australia, it’s a lot lower, residential buildings are responsible for around 12% of emissions. Manufacturing, mining, construction, transport, and agriculture make up the biggest chunk of CO2e here. Even so, reducing emissions at home can have a big impact on the world we share.

The average Australian household generates about 15 tonnes of CO2e each year. That includes lighting, heating, waste systems and getting from A to B. In the UK, the average home generates 8.1 tonnes of CO2e. In America, it’s around 16 tonnes per person.

Of course, the styles of people’s homes, the energy and waste systems they have access to and the climate they’re living in all influence the size of individual household carbon footprints.

Creating carbon-neutral buildings

Guidance for constructing new carbon-neutral residential buildings is now available. There’s a push to retrofit older residential buildings to reduce their carbon emissions too. Installing insulation reduces energy consumption, replacing fossil fuel systems with clean energy options and measuring the performance of these new systems are just some of the strategies that work.

In Subiaco, Western Australia, Sentinel’s Element 27 residential complex became the first Carbon Neutral Certified apartment building in Australia. The new development incorporates multiple water and energy conservation systems, durable materials and innovative waste systems to achieve this remarkable milestone. The build-to-rent property is a 100% rental community that’s supported by cutting-edge technology.

Technology has a huge role to play in helping residential buildings achieve carbon neutrality and even carbon-negative statuses. Building operation systems – HVAC, automatic doors, lifts, plumbing, electrics and more – account for almost 90% of a residential building’s emissions. Building management software can monitor and optimise these.

Ensuring a building’s systems are functioning well and regularly maintained can reduce the level of CO2e. Simple reminders for residents about how to get the most from their apartment for less can help them use resources wisely. All of this is possible with BuildingLink’s management software. Maintenance modules, resident communication apps and even booking systems for shared facilities enable a building’s energy — and emissions — to be managed proactively. Interested in exploring how BuildingLink’s software can help you toward becoming carbon-neutral with your residential building? Contact us today to arrange a bespoke demonstration of our software.

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