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Goodbye gas connections, hello solar panels: Melbourne’s buildings to get cleaner, greener

“Different sizes or types of buildings will have a different green factor score they must achieve in order to gain planning approval,” Reece said.


“This is going to revolutionize Melbourne’s green roofs. It’s going to transform every new apartment and office building into an oasis of greenery and foyers and building walls.”

Reece said sustainable building standards were a step forward the City of Melbourne’s goal of net zero emissions by 2040. State Planning Minister Jacinta Allen has already reviewed the planning reforms.

Councilor Elizabeth Doidge said the reforms would not make building new buildings more expensive.

“The top tier builders are already building to these standards and the new developments are already looking at the service, especially the best developments in town,” she said.

Caitlin Uren, head of environmental, social and corporate governance capital markets for property company JLL Australiasaid there would be an adjustment period where people would have to rethink the feasibility and costs of their projects, even though the reforms were necessary.

Melbourne Deputy Mayor Nick Reece and Councilor Elizabeth Doidge at a green wall at Prima Tower in Southbank.Credit:Justin McManus

“As a developer, if you can deliver a building that causes no greenhouse gas emissions because you are all-electric, you are very energy efficient and ideally connected to a renewable energy grid, you create a more resilient asset in the market,” Uren said.

“Yes, there may be additional costs in the transition period, but certainly the positive side of income and the flow of additional capital value certainly offsets those costs.”

Hours said she appreciated that some people are “unenthusiastic” about losing a gas connection, but the changes were a necessary societal shift.

“What’s the point of investing in all this renewable infrastructure and just continuing to use fossil fuels in the buildings?”

The urban reforms will not apply to existing buildings, but will stimulate policies, among other things sustainable adaptation measuresincluding the preservation of reusable parts of existing buildings.

“This focuses on new construction, on renovations,” Uren said. “The next piece will definitely be there, looking at the existing built form.”

The changes to the planning plan are open for public consultation until April, after which they will be submitted to the state government for approval.

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