Net Zero Energy Homes

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In the next 30 years, Australia will need to increase the number of homes it builds each year by 20% to avoid compounding the current affordability challenges that the community already faces.

As most countries are moving towards zero waste concepts to sustainably manage their waste, Australia can set a precedent through designing sustainable homes and using current waste materials from the building and construction industry as part of their construction make-up.  

What is happening in Australia?

 A major coalition of community groups has joined forces urging Australian Government ministers to support the improvement of energy performance standards in the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC).

The NCC joint committee believe that  all Australians should be able to live in a safe and healthy home that is low cost to run. But too many homes are being built that leave people paying too high energy bills and exposed to heatwaves and winter cold. They do not meet community expectations. The NCC strongly supports the commitment of Australian state, territory and Commonwealth governments to set a minimum 7-star NatHERS rating for new homes and introduce renewable energy requirements when the National Construction Code (NCC) is updated in 2022

Signatories include major peak bodies and organisations across the social services, tenancy, community, and environmental sectors. The statement was sent this week to all state, territory and Commonwealth Ministers with responsibility for building, construction, and energy portfolios. The intervention comes days before a key meeting of the nation’s Building Ministers at this Friday’s Building Ministers’ Forum.

“Net-zero energy homes are possible, and they’re possible now,” said Rob McLeod, Sustainable Housing Advocate at Renew. “Too many Australian homes cost too much to run. They’re too cold in winter and dangerously hot during summer heatwaves.”

“Energy bills are putting people around Australia under mental and financial stress. There has never been a better time to improve home energy standards. Investing in building standards and home retrofits should be a key response to the post-pandemic jobs crisis. We’ve seen amazing leadership on home energy performance in the Victorian budget this week. It would be so frustrating if that momentum isn’t built on at a national level.”

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie, said “Too many people on low incomes experience energy debt, deprivation or disconnection because their homes are inefficient and cost too much to run.

“More efficient new homes, combined with improving the energy efficiency of existing homes, is critical to improving social equity, health and wellbeing of people on low-incomes.”

A separate statement of support has been issued by a range of industry organisations who also back improving new home energy standards.

“There is an opportunity, during this time of economic recovery, to focus efforts on reforms that will deliver better productivity and quality outcomes,” wrote Professor Ken Maher AO, president of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, in a letter to Ministers signed by 20 peak built environment bodies.

The National Construction Code is set to be updated in 2022. A minimum 7-star NatHERS rating and net-zero energy use through onsite renewables are under consideration.

About Renew

Renew is a leading national not-for-profit organisation providing independent, expert advice on sustainable solutions for the home to households, industry, and government. www.renew.org.au

Learn more about the renewal analysis – https://renew.org.au/research/the-economics-of-6-to-10-star-homes-in-victoria

University of Wollongong doctoral candidate Makrita Solitei discusses what we can do to transform the building industry to consider the lifestyle of our building materials. https://youtu.be/ilDz1mJe8Yw


Net Zero Energy Homes Improvement of Energy Standards NCC ( National Construction Code.)

References:
i ASBEC and Climateworks (2018), “Built To Perform”. https://www.climateworksaustralia.org/resource/builtto-perform
ii ASBEC and Climateworks (2018), “Built To Perform”.
iii Climateworks (2020), “Decarbonisation Futures”.
https://www.climateworksaustralia.org/resource/decarbonisation-futures-solutions-actions-and-benchmarksfor-a-net-zero-emissions-australia
iv Isaacs, T. and A. Pears 2016, How cautious analysis could lead to ‘do nothing’ policy: A case study of the 6-star housing Regulation Impact Statement
v https://ahd.csiro.au
vi Renew (2019), “The Value of 6-10 Star Homes”. https://renew.org.au/research/the-economics-of-6-to-10-star-homes-in-victoria
vii https://anuhd.org/advocacy
viii https://bit.ly/NLEPPstimulus

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