All sizable commercial structures designed from 2022 will be mandated to operate at a net-zero level in a climate policy announcement by the NSW Planning Minister.

Rob Stokes stated that dark roofing will be discontinued on houses constructed across Sydney and has critiqued the Commonwealth’s climate agenda while presenting a set of measures to elevate the state’s emissions reductions response.

Addressing an online forum for urban think-tank Committee for Sydney, Stokes also called out parts of the property sector for their backlash regarding another decision this year to mandate paler roofs in the south-west growth region, stating he believed it to be “incredible” legislation needed to elicit change.

There exist no reasons as to why we shouldn’t reject dark roofing on new homes to guarantee that future communities of Sydney’s west don’t have to deal with the urban heat that many cities do at the present time, he stated, saying he had asked planners to encompass the policy switch as a part of a new umbrella approach to emissions.

The proposed rules will be encompassed in planning mechanisms developers must follow as a part of Stokes’ showpiece Design and Place policy, an inclusive document that intends to elevate the statewide standards of sustainable urban design.

In his speech Stokes referred to University of NSW research, commissioned by the federal government, that revealed that changing to cooler roofing would lower Sydney’s summer temperatures by up to 2.4 degrees.

He also said that office skyscrapers, hotels and shopping centres would stand amongst commercial developments in which energy usage must operate at net-zero emissions from the year 2022. He stated that most buildings operating under the NABERS emissions rating system already had achieved net-zero commitments well in advance of 2050.

Stockland, which operates major shopping centres and residential developments and retirement villages, has promised to attain net-zero by 2028.

The announcement was praised by Committee for Sydney chief executive Gabriel Metcalf, who stated it would “propel NSW event further into a leadership role on climate action”.

The Green Building Council’s chief executive Davina Rooney stated that building structures powered by renewable energy was the optimum way to accomplish this.

Owners of large commercial office buildings will be encouraged to reduce upfront carbon emissions from products and materials, she said, referencing to a new focus in the industry to cut down on embodied carbon.

As a component of the state government changes, new residential developments will be asked to adhere to higher energy ratings standards.

Property Council of Australia western Sydney director Ross Grove encouraged the government to permit a window “to ensure building designers and developers can make the necessary upgrades”.

Steve Mann, chief executive of the NSW branch of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, stated policy changes must be reviewed in light of the crisis revolving around housing affordability and supply.

Anything that requires the resetting of our supply pipelines would exert short-term impacts, he stated, adding that councils mandated against lighter roofs due to reflectivity. He stated that there could be cost impacts also exerted against material supply chains. He said [Colorbond] Ironstone is the strongest in demand at the moment.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said this month that the state had struck a pledge with the United Nations Climate Change Conference to boost electric vehicle sales and was on track to render 50 per cent of all new vehicles sold across the state electric by the year 2030.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison proclaims a “technology not taxes” mantra regarding emissions reduction, stating that plans like investment in charging stations for electric vehicles and a $1 billion scheme to be co-funded by private investors to decarbonise the economy.

Keans said that we won’t attain net-zero without including wine bars and inner-city cafes, Stokes said.

He says that climate and environmental resilience now stand firmly on the agenda of their federal counterparts—just as it should be.


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