Sydney - Residential Apartments Sustainability Plan


The apartment sector is responsible for 11% of City of Sydney emissions. With 73% of residents in more than 1,900 apartment buildings the plan responds to the need for sector specific action to drive down emissions and energy use in apartment buildings. By 2030 over 90% of new dwellings built will be high-rise buildings.

Apartment owners have less control over their buildings than single dwelling owners. A pilot program confirmed energy efficiency upgrades are restricted due to complexity of strata legislation, limited capacity and access to finance, lack of expertise and support, and service providers that remain reluctant to engage given complicated decision making governance and timeframes. Building standards are weak and compliance is variable.


The RASP represents best-practice civic leadership and governance, providing a clear line of sight from the City’s guiding strategic plan Sustainable Sydney 2030, and the Energy Efficiency Master Plan which targets emissions reductions in buildings of 33% by 2030. 

Energy efficiency offers cost effective and material opportunities for empowering our communities and reducing emissions. The pilot identified that apartment buildings can reduce base building energy by 30% through cost effective energy efficiency projects and technologies spanning lighting, pool pumps and motors, heating and ventilation systems.

The City will also advocate for a performance benchmark or rating tool with mandatory disclosure for apartments. Independent research commissioned to inform the plan recognised disclosure of ratings as the single most effective way of catalysing the uptake of efficiency opportunities, driving improved environmental performance, reducing greenhouse emissions and utility bills.

By adopting these actions, the City also stands to reduce emissions by 40%, water consumption by 7% by 2030, divert 70% of waste from landfill by 2021, and save up to USD$66,013 per building in estimated operational savings.

Finally, the City’s Renewable Energy Master Plan estimates solar electricity PV, solar hot water and micro or mini wind turbines across buildings could provide up to 15.2% of the City’s electricity demand. The City provides funds for engaged apartment buildings to install solar and demonstrate the benefits to other buildings through its innovation grant stream.

Projected Outcomes

The Plan represents good value for money, providing a mechanism for government, utilities, and communities to collaborate on actions at a very low cost to the City - at under $10 per tonne. The pilot showed that projects mostly pay back in less than four years, saving buildings up to USD$66,013. As utility costs continue to rise, these savings will be an increasing economic incentive for owners to retrofit their buildings.

Water and waste savings complement the energy efficiency outcomes. By adopting the actions in the RASP the City's apartment stakeholders stand to reduce water consumption by 7% by 2030, and divert 70% of waste from landfill by 2021.

The City is engaging as a co-lead on the C40 Private Buildings Efficiency network and broader C40 network in order to share progress and findings from its energy efficiency work with apartments. It is also engaging with local and international cities through Australia’s Council of Capital City Lord Mayors. Sydney also hosts a C40 funded City Advisor, who will develop and share findings with C40 cities, with a full suite of compelling sector action plans for change including accommodation, commercial office and retail.