Thursday’s news that embodied carbon would play a role in the NABERS rating tool – and NSW planning policies – is sure to fuel the big demand present in the built environment to bring this major source of emissions under control.

The development of a new rating tool to measure embodied carbon is being undertaken by NABERS, with the objective of setting a national baseline for enhanced performance and developing supply chains.

Set for completion in the next 18 months, the tool is planned to roll out on a national level as a voluntary rating for commercial structures, with the possibility to enable mandatory planning policy in the days to come.

A team has been established to work solely on the project from within NABERS, as financed by the NSW government.

As with standing NABERS’ rating tools, the new framework will result from extensive industry and stakeholder consultation and is being developed in partnership with the GBCA to harmonise the approach of Green Star and NABERS regarding embodied carbon.

Another essential partner in this effort will be the Materials and Embodied Carbon Leaders’ Alliance (MECLA) which has a standing foundation for dealing with supply chain providers.

NABERS director Carlos Flores says that issues as to whether the new tool would assume a six star format like standing rating tools will be addressed later in the development process.

He said that unlike energy efficiency, embodied carbon has not been a key issue in Australia’s design and development landscape, in spite of burgeoning interest from policymakers and industry.

Everyone knows that embodied carbon will have to play a role in planning policies for new buildings, and the interest does exist, Flores said. However, improved frameworks are needed to make this happen.

A prime benefit of a national framework will be the capacity to compare a building’s carbon footprints with those surrounding.

He says that, while you can measure a building’s carbon footprint, but benchmarks are needed to determine if you are using less embodied carbon than other buildings.

In recognising the value of a standard framework, NSW has promised at least $4.8 million to fund the program, yet Flores said the framework will be devised with a national focus to help guarantee the best outcomes–national frameworks, industry consistency and low costs.


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