How to make a company or building carbon neutral in Australia

To make an organisation or company or building carbon neutral (or even impact positive) the same process can be applied, namely:

MEASURE:          Calculate emissions

REDUCE:              Develop and implement an emissions reduction strategy

OFFSET:               Purchase offsets to compensate for remaining emissions

VALIDATE:           Arrange independent validation

REPORT:              Publish a public statement of your carbon neutral claim

You can do this yourself and make Carbon Neutral (CN) claims but the ACCC may query your claims if they are cannot be verified. For more on this see the Australia Consumer Law and Green marketing guide.

Several organisations are starting to use the Government’s  Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard. Using this standard and a Registered Consultant to verify the data and offsets used means they can use of the Climate Active carbon neutral certification trademark, which can be used to demonstrate carbon neutral status and sustainability leadership.

The process to achieve and claim Carbon Neutrality for organisations and buildings differs. Certification for:

  1. organisations, products and services, events and precincts can be sought through the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy.
  2. buildings is available through NABERS or the Green Building Council of Australia.


You can try and do much of the preparation and data collection work internally however, you might find it much easier to use consultants who specialise in this and maybe use carbon emission accounting tools that enable repeat tracking and reporting of your carbon emissions.

Size matters:

  1. If you are a small business the cost of going through the Government certification process can be significant, with costs starting at around $10,000 as demonstrated in the excellent case study by dsquared who a not a large business but are officially certified as Carbon Neutral through the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard.
  2. If you are a medium or large business the journey will certainly set you apart from others, and give you a pathway to constantly reducing operational costs, whilst being much kinder to the environment.

Ecomplish as an example, is a small independent consultancy that already has solar power and LG batteries to provide and store all the power it needs. It also uses an electric car (Tesla) for transport and charges that only with renewable power, hence using virtually no operational emissions. The office also uses its solar passive design (orientation, insulation, shading, high specification glazing, cross ventilation etc) to limit the need for mechanical air conditioning.  Hence it could easily be certified as carbon neutral however the administration costs (circa $10k) would be arguably be better spent on actual environmental improvements, which we have undertaken.

For most organizations though, this is not easily achievable so certification is recommended. For business that go down the Carbon Neutral certification path, the advantages include:

  1. seeing where improvements can be made to improve efficiency, for example installing more energy efficient air conditioning, installing solar power, reducing high emission food catering (preferencing local food) etc,
  2. any only then, going out any purchasing approved offsets for the remaining emissions.  Skipping the first step would merely encourage inefficiency and increase the quantity of offsets required. Indeed the first step can reduce operational costs significantly (typically 5% to 20%).

Examples of large companies becoming carbon neutral include Bank Australia and Lendlease

If you need advice on where to start, feel free to give Ben O’Callaghan a call on 0419409887 or contact us using our contact form. Interestingly, Ben has previously managed multiple carbon offset projects himself in NSW and QLD. He also has a network of trusted professionals that can make your journey to Carbon Neutrality smooth, more rewarding and enlightening.