Pressure is mounting to increase “out of date” six star minimum energy efficiency standards for new homes ahead of the COAG Energy Council meeting next Wednesday.
The Energy Efficiency Council, Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), Renew, CHOICE, and National Shelter are among more than 50 community, environment, industry and local government groups that have signed a joint statement asking energy ministers to commit to higher energy performance standards for all Australian homes.
According to Renew chief executive officer Donna Luckman, a lot has changed since the six star minimum standard was introduced in 2010, including the urgency to address climate change.
“Australia’s six star standard for new homes is out of date and hasn’t kept up with rising energy prices and new technology,” she said.
“As a result, new home buyers are missing out on simple energy-saving improvements that would save them hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills.”
Households could save as much as $900 a year if the energy efficiency requirements of the National Construction Code are improved, according to a recent study by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council and Climateworks Australia.
The same study estimates that actions to reduce emissions from the building sector could deliver 28 per cent of Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target.
“Lifting the baseline across the whole industry will make efficient homes the ‘new normal’, ensuring all consumers – not just the most informed – can enjoy the benefits of healthier, more comfortable homes with lower energy bills and a smaller environmental footprint,” Ms Luckman said.
Property Council’s policy manager Frankie Muskovic said the updates would stabilise the investment environment.
“We back the call for a trajectory towards zero-energy and carbon-ready homes that provides policy certainty for industry and underpins a least-cost pathway to a zero-carbon built environment,” she said.
“Once higher standards become the new industry norm, the purchasing power of volume builders and the spread of new skills and innovation across the industry will combine to bring additional costs down.”
Energy usage budget and rental minimum standards requested
The joint statement is targeting an improvement in standards for both existing and new homes, including fixed appliances. It recognises that the current review of the National Construction Code – to be implemented in 2022 – is an opportunity to set higher standards for new homes.
An energy use budget, incentives for landlords
As well as supporting the improvement in minimum performance standards for new residential buildings and major upgrades to a seven star NatHERS equivalent by 2022, the coalition is requesting an “energy usage budget” in the National Construction Code. It would be reviewed and updated every three years.
The group also wants to see the energy efficiency of rentals improved, including minimum performance standards and potentially even incentives to landlords to upgrade rental properties.
They also want mandatory disclosure of energy performance for all buildings when they are sold and leased, and programs to improve the energy efficiency of all social housing, including community housing.