Rising to the Challenge - Zero Emissions Buildings

2024-06-05 12:47:36 By Joshua

Buildings are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions with over 1/3 of the emissions in the EU, and in Australia it is estimated that our buildings account for approximately 1/10 of the emissions. The EU has set ambitious targets to achieve zero-emission buildings by 2050.

2030 Milestone

In the EU, there is a mandate that all new buildings constructed in 2030 must adhere to zero-emission standards, with non-residential buildings required to meet minimum energy performance criteria. Alongside this, there is a concerted effort of a gradual phase out the least energy-efficient structures. The EU aims to reduce the average primary energy consumption of residential buildings by 16% by 2030 and 20-22% by 2035. In Australia, significant strides are being made as well. The 2023–24 Government Budget allocated $1.3 billion to launch the Household Energy Upgrades Fund, facilitating loans for home improvements such as battery-ready solar PV installations and modern, energy-efficient appliances. This initiative targets over 110,000 households, emphasizing renovations for the 43% worst performing residential buildings, with particular attention to aiding vulnerable households.

Phasing Out Fossil Fuels

With buildings contributing a substantial share of greenhouse gas emissions, initiatives like the EU's plans to eliminate fossil fuel water heaters by 2040 are critical for decarbonizing this sector. Mandating the integration of solar energy installations in new and renovated buildings, alongside sustainable mobility infrastructure, underscores a commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable future. Australia, with the highest solar radiation per square metre of any continent and consequently some of the best solar energy resource in the world - exceeding the annual sunlight hours of the EU by more than 23% - should follow suit in implementing such mandates. In addition to solar energy, provisions for electric car recharging points, bicycle parking, and forward-thinking infrastructure are essential steps toward creating future-proof and environmentally responsible communities. As the EU sets ambitious targets to achieve zero-emission buildings by 2050, it's time for Australia to accelerate our transition towards sustainable, low-carbon infrastructure.

Long-Term Benefits

By eliminating fossil fuel water heaters and mandating solar energy installations, Australia can significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with building operations, contributing to global efforts to mitigate climate change. This transformation not only decreases dependence on limited and environmentally damaging resources, but also promotes a cleaner, more sustainable world for future generations. Moreover, the integration of renewable energy sources often translates into cost savings on energy bills for residents. Over time, solar energy coupled with energy-efficient practices can lead to substantial savings, offering a win-win scenario for both the environment and the residents of these sustainable homes.


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Council of the EU. (2024, April 12). Towards zero-emission buildings by 2050: Council adopts rules to improve energy performance. Retrieved from Council of the European Union:

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. (2023, May 10). Energy Future Plan. Retrieved from Australian Government:

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. (2024, February 22). Energy Efficiency: Buildings. Retrieved from Australian Government:

EU Climate Change Service. (2021). Clouds and sunshine duration. Retrieved from EU Copernicus:

Geoscience Australia. (2023, June 7). Solar Energy. Retrieved from Australian Government:


Europe receives approximately 2,594 hours of sunlight per year, while Perth enjoys around 3,200 hours annually. By calculating the ratio, we find that Perth experiences about 123.36% of the sunlight hours that Europe does. Thus, Perth has approximately 23% more sunlight hours annually than Europe on average.