Skip to content

Carbon and Energy

View all resources for this issue

Australia’s property, construction and infrastructure industry is highly energy-intensive, accounting for approximately 25% of the nation’s total energy consumption and 7.4% of Australia’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions. The property, construction and infrastructure sectors also contribute significantly to the total transport emissions of the nation.

It is evident that these sectors have a responsibility to examine their carbon footprint, and manage their carbon and energy impacts in order to tackle climate change and the impacts of climate extremes. There is increasing demand from governments, clients, contractors and businesses to measure and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions entering the atmosphere.

Carbon emissions from day-to-day use are only part of the story, so we must also consider the embodied carbon; that is the amount of carbon released from material extraction, transport, manufacturing, and related activities.

The main difference between embodied carbon and carbon footprinting is that the term ‘carbon footprint’ can also be used to discuss operational carbon requirements, for example heating and lighting a building, or operation of a power tool. Embodied carbon is used in the context of materials and includes all activities related to the construction of a building, including the extraction, production and transportation of materials.

International standards are available to help you measure and monitor your carbon footprint including ISO 14064 - Greenhouse Gases and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

The Australian Government’s Department of Environment and Energy publishes Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts, which track national emissions from 1990 onwards. Australia's greenhouse gas emissions are estimated as a nation, by state and by industry. This data is used to meet Australia's reporting commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), track progress against Australia's emission reduction commitments, and inform policy makers and the public.

Adapting to climate change means we will need to adapt the buildings we build, work and live in as climate change will affect levels of rainfall, heat, wind and frequency of extreme weather events.