Low carbon living research centre launched
A research centre for low carbon living that will establish the materials and infrastructure required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 has been launched.
The newly launched Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Low Carbon Living, which is based at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), will establish the materials and infrastructure required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The CRC comprises a national consortium of 45 participants, including universities, government and construction and building industries. $28 million has been granted by the Australian Federal Government towards the $100 million cost to establish the CRC.
“The CRC for Low Carbon Living is tackling the best way to reduce carbon emissions in Australia. Previous reports have shown that tackling the built environment is the best and most cost effective way of reducing emissions in both new builds and also retrofits of all buildings from the commercial sector right through to the residential sector,” Dr Dennis Else, general manager for sustainability, safety and health at Brookfield Multiplex, who has been elected to the board of the CRC, comments.
“The pursuit of low carbon buildings also provides a major opportunity to simultaneously improve the performance of our buildings. By employing the growing body of evidence-based design we will find ways to build hospitals that heal people faster, offices that enable greater productivity and education and research facilities that stimulate better collaboration and faster learning,” he adds.
Dr Else’s role will be to represent the industry segment of the CRC and, as chair of the Research Advisory Committee, to lead a distinguished independent panel of researchers who will vet the quality of all research programs. The CRC is a collaboration of key researchers from the UNSW, University of Melbourne, Curtin University in WA, the University of SA and CSIRO and is coordinated from the UNSW Tyree Energy Technologies building in Kensington that was constructed by Brookfield Multiplex and was completed earlier this year.
The CRC aims to help cut Australia’s residential and commercial carbon emissions by an extra 10 mega tonnes per year by 2020, which is the environmental equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road each year. It plans to do that by developing low carbon building construction materials and increasing the evidence base for government policy and planning, among other measures.
Australia has set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 compared with 2000 levels.When the 2020 carbon reduction targets are met, the CRC will have delivered a direct benefit of $250 million per year to the economy, while reducing risk to the $150 billion per year construction industry as it adjusts to a carbon-constrained economy.
“The reduced cost of achieving national greenhouse gas emissions targets will cut the cost of Australia’s carbon reduction obligations by around $70 billion by 2040, all without a reduction of living standards,” the CRC’s CEO, UNSW professor, Deo Prasad, states.
Some of the 15 research projects already underway at the CRC include:
- developing next-generation building products including roofing materials that double as solar panels and can also moderate the temperature of buildings
- exploring how low carbon concretes incorporating fly ash can be used within existing standards
- zero carbon housing through the integration of design and technical features with new materials and technologies
- scoping studies for the design, creation and evaluation of entire low-carbon precincts and suburbs
- changing household behaviour by better understanding the scale and form of domestic usage of electricity, gas, petrol and water
- developing a modelling framework to forecast the impact of government policy and program interventions on the uptake of building retrofits by tenants and landlords in commercial and residential buildings, and
- the creation of ‘living laboratories’ to rollout and test innovative low-carbon living solutions in real communities, and observe the impact across a broad spectrum of social, technical and economic metrics.
“The ultimate goal of the CRC will be to enable whole cities to operate as low carbon precincts. The CRC demonstrates Australia’s leadership in developing world leading best practices to combat the growing pressures on our environment,” Dr Else concludes.