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Unlocking the secrets to gas-free buildings

Australia 24 March 2022

All-electric buildings will become business as usual with the help of a new guide launched this week by Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and global consulting firm Cundall at GBCA’s TRANSFORM conference.

Targeting new build developments, The Building Electrification Guide explains the affordable all-electric technologies available in the market and maps out the business case and design, delivery, and commissioning process for all-electric buildings.

For decades, gas connection for heating, hot water and cooking has been standard practice for Australian buildings across all sectors including commercial, retail, residential and institutional buildings.

With gas equipment being a large source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants during combustion and throughout supply chain, Jorge Chapa, Head of Market Transformation at GBCA says it is a major hurdle in our collective transition to a net zero carbon future.

“What excites us about this Guide is that not only does it showcase existing, all-electric buildings that are powered by renewable energy, it also demonstrates how all new buildings can reach that point. As industry and community demand for these buildings grows, the technology is already successfully being used today. There is no reason why all new buildings can’t be all-electric from now on."

“An all-electric building comes with many benefits – from easy access to renewable energy, to healthy spaces for occupants. As we move into a decarbonised world, all-electric buildings are future-proofed from having to be refurbished to eliminate outdated technologies. They have less risk of becoming stranded assets,” says Chapa.

One of the major challenges facing the retail and residential sectors is uncertainty that induction and electric equipment is capable of replacing gas for cooking applications. The guide tackles these issues head-on and explains how induction cooking is cleaner, safer, and gives that important easy-to- control heat. It also highlights recent evidence of the significant impact of gas combustion cooking on human health inside buildings.

"As consumers become aware of the health issues caused by pollutants from gas, their attitudes to this fossil fuel are shifting,” Chapa says. “From the chefs of Australia's most renowned restaurants through to weeknight, at-home cooks, people are realising that cooking with gas is harmful both to their health and the health of the planet."

As more of Australia’s electricity supply becomes generated by renewables, fully-electrified buildings will help reduce the carbon emissions that are causing global heating.

Co-author and former Cundall Partner David Clark says we can’t get to zero carbon if we keep embedding fossil fuel infrastructure in our buildings.

“All of the technologies and approaches outlined in the guide are based on available solutions, and Cundall has already incorporated these into projects in Australia, Asia, Europe and the UK. Our clients want reliable, cost-effective, low carbon solutions, and we know these solutions work.” Clark says.

“What has been holding many developers and asset owners back has been lack of clear and practical guidance that will support decision-making and alleviate concerns with moving away from yesterday’s normal. All-electric buildings will soon be the new normal. We are glad we could work with GBCA to help bring the future forward.”

Supported by the CEFC and NSW Government the Building Electrification Guide helps designers, developers, builders, planners and stakeholders deliver gas-free, all-electric buildings for new developments.

The Guide was officially launched at the GBCA’s TRANSFORM conference and is being made freely available here