Here’s what life will look like in 2030 if Australian governments adopt best practice energy standards that are currently on the table for our homes and appliances.
Good morning! It’s 2030! Wake up and smell the coffee!
You’ve slept well. You always do in your sustainable, zero carbon home. As a hay fever sufferer, you really notice the fresh air in this house. The paints and surfaces don’t emit any toxic particles like volatile organic compounds. The windows are in just the right places to allow a great cross-breeze when it’s hot.
Okay, time to visit the bathroom. It’s great to think you’re flushing the loo using rainwater, which means you haven’t used drinking water for your toilet.
Next up, a morning shower. Thanks to the solar hot water system, it’s piping hot and free to heat. The water comes out through a water efficient shower fitting, using just 30 litres for your seven minute shower – a huge improvement on the old style ones that use double that amount.
Downstairs, the natural light is streaming through the kitchen window. All the appliances – oven, kettle, coffee machine, toaster – perform to stringent energy standards, so you knew when you were buying them that they wouldn’t be wasting energy while you got the coffee brewing and prepared your brekkie.
Right, time to go. You head off, closing the door behind you. You knew when you bought the place how good it would be; the 8 star NatHERS rating was part of the deal when the recommended energy efficiency standards in the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks’ Built to Perform report were made mandatory, under changes to the National Construction Code.
You nod to your neighbour who’s leaving at the same time. She’s a single mum who’s working hard to raise her daughter and study. She’s renting; it’s great to know that she and her young child enjoy the same comfort from a zero energy home as you do (The dollars she saves on energy costs are paying for swimming lessons and dance classes for her child).
Your commute is very easy. Your home was built in a place that worked well with the existing train network, and previous governments were far sighted enough to put in more infrastructure connecting your housing with other facilities.
Active transport is a possibility – there’s a connected, safe network of cycle paths – so you can choose between an invigorating 30 minute cycle or a 15 minute train trip.
The sustainability industry employs you; your role as an energy engineer is one of the 70,000 new jobs created when Australia adopted global energy efficiency standards and the Council of Australian Governments’ Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.
You spend the day making design tweaks to save even more energy, and reporting back on the energy consumption in your office block. Tomorrow you can work from home due to the excellent communications infrastructure put in place a decade ago.
Back home there are a few bills to pay – but fortunately they are very low. And look, the solar electricity you sell back into the grid has resulted in a payment to you. Thanks, zero energy home! You’re not spending much on maintenance either, due to the long lasting, low maintenance materials used throughout the house. The recycled wooden floorboards upstairs, for example, mean there’s no carpet to endlessly replace.
Night is falling and it’s getting chilly. This house is well insulated though, and zoned heating allows you to heat the space you’re in rather than the whole house. Passive solar design and the right orientation helps it heat and cool naturally.
At bedtime, you can sleep easy knowing you could stay here throughout each stage in life, due to the liveable design. There’s a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor, for example, if the stairs were ever a problem you would have the option to sleep downstairs. Sweet dreams. Don’t have any nightmares about what your life would be like if Australian governments hadn’t adopted best practice energy standards in our homes and appliances way back in 2019….
Suzanne Toumbourou is the executive director of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council.
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