Responding to the IPCC’s Working Group III Report just released in Berlin, the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA) highlighted again the important role that the building industry must play in building the cities of the future and mitigating the climate threat.

“We can reduce energy prices while addressing climate change if we transform the way we build our cities and homes,” Sid Thoo, ABSA’s Chairman said.

“Too often sustainability is understood as something that adds expense to construction and comes at the cost of economic activity, of productivity, of jobs, of what’s good for working Australian families.

“But we now know that sustainable buildings are not just good for the people who live and work in them, they’re also great for communities, and they will be a major part of how we must respond globally to the challenge of climate change,” he said.

The IPPC reports that the building sector was responsible for 34% final energy use in 2010, but with energy demand projected to roughly double, emissions could increase 50-150% by 2050.

“Much of the building sector is in denial about this and we’re still seeing the construction of energy-sucking homes that are locking families into a future of ever-skyrocketing electricity prices,” Sid said.

“We’re seeing more and more families struggling with the burden of rising energy costs, living in some of most poorly designed buildings in Australia.

“We know how to design sustainable buildings. We have the technology, the knowledge and the experience. We know what we can do in order to improve the environmental performance of buildings and to minimise the impact on the environment.

“The IPCC report tells us that with the increase in advanced technologies, know-how and good policies, it’s possible to stabilise or reduce building sector energy use by 2050,” he said.

It is becoming more and more affordable and economically smart to build and retrofit buildings for energy efficiency. Affordability needs to consider ongoing operational and maintenance costs, not just initial construction costs.

Improvements such as solar hot water, reducing standby energy use, and better energy efficiency of appliances can result in reductions of residential greenhouse gas emissions of up to 40%.

The IPCC also reports that retrofits in existing buildings combined with low energy building codes for new developments can help achieve reductions of heating/cooling energy use by 50-90%.

“The industry must respond by building the cities of the future, including sustainable homes that don’t lock families into runaway energy costs,” he said


Sid Thoo is the Chair of ABSA and a practicing architect based in Perth who helps people design eco-effective homes that are more comfortable, use less energy and water, and have a smaller carbon footprint. He lectures at Murdoch University in energy efficient building design and is a member of the Australian Institute of Architects.

About ABSA: The Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA) is a not-for-profit national membership organisation representing building and design professionals who specialise in assessing the environmental impact of buildings. ABSA’s vision is to improve sustainability through the design and use of buildings.

For more information about ABSA visit

The IPCC Working Group 3 Report (WGIII)