By Michael Purtell

Letter: 31 January 2011 – Well here I am – it has been nearly 12 months now since the Green Loans Scheme fell over, or should I say literally crashed – and now that the Green Start housing program has also been scrapped,  household sustainability assessors wait to see what emerges that will require their household assessment skills.

Assessors were buoyed after the government recently promised compensation for those who trained to be assessors but were denied a contract (myself included). Many of us involved, who were hoping for new careers have now returned to our original careers and now await to see how the household sustainability assessor industry will emerge. At present there are approximately 7500 trained HSAs – and of these 5000 were given green loans contracts.

A new nationally accredited certificate 4 course in HSA has now been endorsed and some colleges and TAFE are considering offering this new course if there are the numbers interested. So here’s hoping that this industry can once again rise from the ashes and that household assessments will once again become the norm.

After being closely involved in the training of green loans and then to have registered but missed out on a green loans contract for inspection of households for their energy and water use, I now wait in limbo for the next move and just where that may come from.

There are many possibilities. The federal government has already introduced mandatory reporting for commercial and industrial buildings and mandatory reporting for housing has been planned for a nationwide introduction from July 2011, but the latest word is that no-one is near ready for this introduction and there are expectations of a delay. The creators of this new house reporting program have been very quiet indeed.

Mandatory reporting will require that houses display their water and energy use in the form of a report at point of sale. This has been operating in the ACT for many years with broad acceptance from the community. The last word I heard on the grapevine was that MR for housing will be introduced on a state by state basis and that each state will decide the system of assessment.  However all has been quiet on this topic for many months.

The big question for many involved in household sustainability is, will household sustainability assessors be able to participate in the mandatory reporting program?

If we are to be included, then a training program will be needed. The other strong possibility is for many existing household sustainability assessors to start up their own practice as consultants to the public and to develop this side of their business and not be dependent on government schemes that rely on the political climate of the day.

One thing is certain – households need expert advice on how to reduce their energy and water use and how to reduce their carbon footprint. Household sustainabilty assessors are waiting to burst forth and deliver their great skills to a waiting community.

Michael Purtell  is an ABSA household sustainability assessor /home energy rating assessor.