Air pollution billows from one of four factory chimneys.

+ A well designed carbon price presents opportunities to drive innovation in the built environment.

As you may have heard, the new carbon price is polarising views here in Australia. Although there's some very vocal opposition to the scheme, a well designed carbon price is a good first step towards a low-carbon economy and presents opportunities to drive innovation in the built environment.

The scientific consensus on the risks of global warming means we all have to do our bit - governments, businesses and individuals. And the tax will encourage the business community to make lower-carbon, long-term investment decisions.

Even before it has been introduced, we’ve seen the tax (or prospect of it) stimulate the market for lower-carbon energy sources like gas. As a building engineer, I believe there's scope for it to drive lower-carbon construction innovation too.

Over the last 10-15 years, the focus on energy-efficiency has reduced the operating carbon footprints of buildings. This means that the carbon footprint of a building’s construction is now a significant proportion of a building’s overall impact. When the carbon price comes in, the incentives to reduce embodied carbon will stimulate innovation and produce savings.

Where will these savings come from?

We'll see greater emphasis on adapting and re-using existing buildings and infrastructure such as roads and railways. Smart, low-carbon building materials will be important - materials and façade engineers will have a much greater role to play as we switch to new, more efficient forms of concrete and metal construction. And pre-assembly and pre-fabrication have a big part of play in the future of low-energy construction.

In the region of Arup that I lead, we're focused on finding ways to move to an ecological age. Through the innovation it will spark, the carbon price guides us a little way along that journey. I certainly see it as an opportunity and I hope others do too.

Where do you think carbon taxation will create opportunities?