Achieving net zero cities
Our cities hold the key to our net zero ambitions
Up to 70 per cent of global end use carbon emissions are generated by cities.
Greater Sydney contributes 38 per cent of NSW’s greenhouse gas emissions.
To tackle climate change, and decarbonise our world, we need to focus on how we can reduce carbon emissions in our cities and urban centres.
The Net Zero Cities Action Plan showcases opportunities to achieve net zero emissions in our homes, our communities and in cities and urban environments.
Net zero delivers real benefits
This Action Plan will help us all to take pragmatic steps to shape a brighter, more sustainable future and harness the benefits of achieving net zero cities.
Reduced cost of living and improved financial security
With a net zero home, you could save up to $1,750 per year on energy costs and by switching to an electric vehicle can save you $1,000 per year on fuel. The savings are even bigger for councils and businesses operating property and fleet services1. Banks are introducing lower interest rates on loans for energy efficient homes, so you could save on your loan with a net zero home too.
Improved health and wellbeing
In 2020, more than 2,100 people died from extreme heat in Australian capital cities2. By 2050 this number is predicted to exceed 5,2003. A sustainably designed, energy efficient home can directly improve your family’s health and well-being. For example, good insulation and ventilation will keep your home cool in summer, protecting you from extreme heat and reducing air conditioning costs by up to 20 percent4. Limiting the use of heating and air conditioning also reduces the risk of respiratory diseases like asthma by minimising the circulation of dust, mites and mould.
Better resilience to the effects of climate change
Net zero cities use less water, energy and natural resources. A net zero home will be more comfortable to live in and more resilient to climate and weather extremes. Natural materials used in net zero homes can be less flammable and, in some cases, won’t burn at all, reducing the risk of fire.
New business opportunities, new economies, and new jobs
Implementing the recommendations in the NSW Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020-2030 will create 9,000 jobs. In the housing sector alone, it has been estimated a focus on net zero homes can create more than 7,000 jobs by 20305.
Give you better public amenity and greener cities
A net zero city is sustainable and has great streets, plazas, public open spaces, public transport, and green infrastructure corridors.
Everyone can make a difference
As an individual, a household, a community member or business, you can collaborate with us on delivering net zero cities. Learn more about the steps you can take.
Small changes to your home and how you run your household can deliver big reductions to your carbon footprint.
Community members, community organisations, businesses and local councils can work together to take action to reduce emissions as a
By joining forces, everyone governing, running a business, living, working and visiting a city or centre can play a role in achieving net
Delivering on the NSW Government’s commitment to net zero
NSW was one of the first Australian jurisdictions to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.
The Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020–2030 is the foundation for NSW’s action to reduce emissions, reach our targets of a 50 per cent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The Net Zero Cities Action Plan complements this and other major emissions reduction initiatives.
A snapshot of NSW Government Actions
The Net Zero Cities Action Plan includes 16 actions for the NSW Government over the next three years to support a goal of net zero cities.
We will do this by:
- showing leadership and generating insights
- creating partnerships and delivering pilots
- supporting innovative approaches.
Showing leadership and generating insights
Reduce carbon emissions from new infrastructure
As a major contributor to the infrastructure pipeline, Transport for NSW has identified a range of actions to reduce carbon emissions across industry procurement, project development and supply chains. These include:
- developing a Roadmap to Net Zero Infrastructure at Transport for NSW
- introducing sustainability performance measures, which will become minimum contract requirements
- increasing the use of renewable energy and recycled and low embodied-carbon materials in projects
- developing technical guidance to Design for Decarbonisation and Design for Circularity
- reviewing standards and specifications to align with net zero commitments
- continuing to invest in the Sustainable Materials Research Workstream with Australia’s leading universities.
Deliver net zero precincts
The NSW Government will take a net zero commitment for state-significant precincts, achieved through a range of approaches including:
- Using no fossil fuels in regular precinct operations
- Pursuing renewable energy opportunities, including on-site sources
- Being demand responsive to reduce energy and water consumption, and ready for smart utility grids.
Improve the carbon performance of new buildings
The NSW Government has introduced a new Sustainable Building State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to address carbon emissions in buildings. It includes increased Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) targets for new residential buildings and net zero requirements for new non-residential buildings.
The Sustainable Buildings SEPP covers the operational performance of buildings and measurement of embodied emissions.
Showcase a Net Zero Home
The NSW Government will partner with a leading developer to create a contemporary, optimal net zero home meeting BASIX 10-star rating.
Once the home is occupied, performance data will be collected to showcase its impact on household carbon emissions and cost savings over time.
People would be able to take virtual and in-person tours of the home, to learn about net zero opportunities, so they can make changes to their own home.
Develop an interactive Net Zero Cities portal
The NSW Government will create a new website to provide households, communities, local government and business owners with practical advice and information to help contribute to a net zero city, while saving money and the environment.
The portal will include case studies, tools and resources like an online calculator, to help people assess the environmental performance of residential and non-residential buildings.
Establish net zero targets in the six cities
The Greater Cities Commission is bringing together the three cities of Greater Sydney – the Western Parkland City, Eastern Harbour City and Central River City – with the cities of the Lower Hunter, Central Coast, and Illawarra-Shoalhaven to create a globally competitive six cities region.
For each of the six cities, and across the six cities region, the Greater Cities Commission will set targets to achieve net zero.
Creating partnerships and delivering pilots
Partner to enable thriving and healthy neighbourhoods
The NSW Government will work with local councils to promote and support active transport for short trips.
This includes providing safe, well-designed and connected streets, with the right infrastructure to support walking and cycling.
Deliver pilots that create net zero opportunities in existing and heritage buildings
The NSW Government will pilot smart net zero technologies in heritage buildings and precincts.
The pilot may also identify adaptive re-use opportunities for heritage buildings, so they remain fit for purpose into the future.
The NSW Government will also consider optimised retrofits for existing buildings to improve performance and retain carbon already expended in existing construction, which aligns with the Accelerating Net Zero Buildings Strategy.
Enable micro-mobility as a smarter way to move freight
The NSW Government will explore options to establish new courier hubs for last mile freight delivery, including in Western Sydney, with a strong focus on testing micro-mobility options for freight delivery.
Partner with the Western Parkland City to accelerate circular economy opportunities
The NSW Government will build on the outcomes of the Smart City Innovation Challenge and, using the Sustainability Advantage Program as a broker, will identify circular economy linkages across Western Parkland City businesses and councils.
If successful, this initiative could be adopted in other precincts and places, including regional locations.
Assist local communities to take up net zero opportunities
The NSW Government will partner with local communities to better understand current challenges preventing action to achieve net zero and uncover success stories.
The focus is to support communities to unlock their own opportunities like community-owned and led energy storage initiatives and addressing challenges for zero emissions vehicle uptake.
Supporting innovative approaches
Trial Vehicle to Grid capability
To ensure bi-directional charging technology can be adopted easily, the NSW Government will undertake a trial of vehicle to grid capability for zero emissions. Transport for NSW will use its own fleet vehicles and engage transport and electricity market participants to support the trial.
Develop a household net zero monitoring tool
The NSW Government will partner with industry to find new ways to bring data on a household’s full carbon profile together, covering energy, transport, water and waste. This will allow households to track consumption, better understand how to reduce their carbon footprint and save money.
Establish a Net Zero layer in the Spatial Digital Twin
The NSW Government will integrate new datasets related to energy, water, wastewater, transport, waste and communications infrastructure and services, into the Spatial Digital Twin to establish a Net Zero layer in the Digital Twin.
This can be used to test and simulate scenarios and interventions, and help governments and industry make decisions about changes and investments to reduce emissions.
Improve understanding of the value of green infrastructure in cities
The NSW Government will develop ways to accurately measure the carbon sequestration capabilities of existing green spaces across urban areas. This will provide baseline data and spatial mapping of the six cities area showing natural levels of carbon sequestration in urban forests, around waterways, in and around buildings and within rail corridors.
The data will be used to create a digital tool to help identify areas where more green infrastructure is needed to form an interconnected green grid and connect communities, improve local amenity and reduce carbon.
Develop an active transport data platform
To support the uptake of active transport, the NSW Government will make more information available to customers on active transport networks and supporting infrastructure, including how cycling, e-bikes, e-scooters and pedestrians interact and intersect.
This could include using artificial intelligence (AI) learning and data mapping capabilities to develop an app or online tool with a detailed active transport map, including bike parking and end-of-trip facilities.
Transport for NSW will also improve collection and availability of data about how many people are using the active transport networks.