Our goal | Be carbon neutral, water positive and create zero waste

What does it mean?

We will lead environmental performance across UGNSW our developments by committing to being carbon neutral, water positive and zero waste by 2028.

Carbon neutral means we generate net zero carbon emissions. This can be achieved by a combination of reduction of energy use, alternative generation and offsetting. Water positive means our developments capture and supply more water than they use. ‘Potable water’ means fit for drinking. Zero waste means zero waste to landfill, both in construction and operation of our created assets. These three leadership targets have a goal of 2028.

Why is it important?

We seek to establish to enabled projects as environmental performance leaders, setting a 'new normal' across NSW and Australia as a whole.  

Many projects and precincts are already on a pathway to meet similar targets, and a handful already exceed our vision. Our objective is that this highest level of performance become 'business as usual' for a sustainable future.

Each of the three issues of carbon, water and waste are important in their own right. Carbon is both a cost of energy and climate change issue. Water positive developments remove pressure on the centralized water system and allow for more efficient precinct planning. Net zero waste reduces both the cost and environmental burden of landfill, and increases innovation in closed loop materials design.

New Urban Agenda

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The Habitat III New urban Agenda has shared vision for cities and human settlements globally. That includes nations such as Australia, and those less fortunate. By embedding this shared vision for cities in the way we approach urban renewal, we can support the following environmental outcomes sought by the New Urban Agenda.
“…cities and human settlements that:

(a) fulfil their social function, including the social and ecological function of land, with a view to progressively achieve the full realization of the right to … universal access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation… food security and nutrition…infrastructure…and transportation, energy, air quality, and livelihoods

(g) adopt and implement disaster risk reduction and management, reduce vulnerability, build resilience and responsiveness to natural and man-made hazards, and foster mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and

(h) protect, conserve, restore, and promote their ecosystems, water, natural habitats, and biodiversity, minimize their environmental impact, and change to sustainable consumption and production patterns.”

100 Resilient Cities

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The 100RC preliminary impact assessment identifies increasing chronic illnesses, lack of transport diversity and diminishing social cohesion as chronic stresses facing Sydney. Our aim is to build upon community cohesion, and support people and our communities to bounce back in times of adversity.

Our Strategy includes targets for all projects to undertake Climate Change Adaptation and Community Resilience planning; embed sustainable energy, water and waste technologies, and enhance our natural environment to leverage the endless benefits of nature.

The more resilient and connected we are, the easier it will be as a community to reduce stresses, and thrive in times acute shocks – rather than just survive.

COP21 Paris Agreement

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Across our portfolio, we will do our part to “hold of average temperature increase to well below 2C, and build resilience within the built environment and our communities to climate change” in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

Urban development contributes up to 30 percent of global emissions, and 40 percent of all energy use. Reducing our environmental footprint, and embedding sustainable and efficient technology will establish more resilient, less intensive communities for the future.

Sustainable Development Goals

We’re meeting the universal call to action driven by the Sustainable Development Goals by prioritising environmentally sound sustainable development.

Our leadership goal to be carbon neutral, water positive and zero waste across our project portfolio will not be easy – but neither is Sustainable Development Goals’ aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

We will focus on water, emissions and energy, biodiversity, climate and resilience, waste and materials, and environmental management, with an understanding that there will be shared successes and challenges across all.



Based on research, collaboration and x the below suite of environmental targets and priorities have been developed.

Energy & emissions

We seek to conserve energy and drive energy-efficient, low-carbon, low-emissions precincts for the future.


  • All new projects modelled to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions at a precinct scale (transport & stationary) by 50% against 2016 reference base case (Stretch Target).
  • All new projects to achieve a minimum of 50% forecast site energy demand from renewable sources (including a target of 5% onsite generation).
  • NABERS energy ratings Office & Hotel: 5.5, Retail: 5 (Stretch Target).
  • Single dwellings achieve BASIX 60; up to three storeys achieve BASIX 45; six storeys and above achieve BASIX 40.


  • We will collaborate with industry to leverage existing, and emerging tools – such as the National Carbon Offset Standards for precincts and buildings, to achieve our goal to be carbon neutral by 2028. 

Climate & resilience

We will embed adaptation and resilience strategies into all precincts and expand community awareness of those strategies. 


  • All new projects to prepare and implement an effective Climate Change Adaptation Plan and Community Resilience Plan with measurable outputs.


  • We will further develop our approach to measure and mitigate urban heat island effect through the development of a decision support tool for Urban Heat Island, in collaboration with The CRC Low Carbon Living, national research and innovation hub supported by the Cooperative Research Centers program.


We will design our precincts based on best practice water sensitive urban design principles, and reduce the use of potable water.


  • All projects to complete and implement a Water Sensitive Urban Design Strategy (modelled to minimum quality: Nitrogen 65, Phosphorus 85, Suspended Solids 95, Gross Pollutants 90 discharged from our sites).
  • Minimum 50% reduction in forecast mains potable water demand for all new projects, from a 2016 compliance benchmark.
  • All office and retail developments to achieve NABERS water rating of 5 or above. All hotel developments to achieve NABERS water rating of 5.5 or above.
  • All dwelling types achieve BASIX 50 for water, or BASIX 60 if access to recycled water exists.


We commit to respect, conserve and regenerate our natural environment.


  • All new projects improve or maintain the biodiversity and ecological communities at a development site, compared to pre-development. 

Waste & materials

We will drive innovation in waste reduction and further enable the use of responsible resources.


  • All new projects will divert a minimum of 95% construction waste from landfill; with the exception of contamination or hazardous materials. 
  • All construction timber will be Forest Stewardship Council Certified or agreed equivalent (i.e. Australian Forestry Standards).


  • Advance our business approach to include recycled, renewable and ethically resourced materials in our projects.

Environmental management

We seek to create, maintain and enhance a culture of high environmental performance.


  • All projects will adopt the use of Green Star ‘As Built’ and ‘Communities’ tools. All projects will target a minimum 5 Star rating.
  • All contractors with a contract over $5M will be required to maintain ISO14001 Environmental Management System accreditation throughout their tenure on our projects.


  • Maintain our Environmental Management System, ISO 14001 Certification.
  • Continue to align to, and report in accordance with, the Government Resource Efficiency Policy.