15 July 2014 – After 20 years as an engineer in the oil and gas industry, Mark Adams has made the shift to a greener sector, setting up as an independent house energy rating consultant in Denmark, Western Australia, and he says there is plenty of work on offer.
The key reason, he says is the higher levels of new home construction under way in Denmark and Albany.
Mr Adams combined accreditation with the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors, a Certificate IV in NatHERS assessment and a Masters of Sustainability to make the transition. To consolidate the move to the “green side”, he has also building a passive solar home and planting a food forest garden.
Mr Adams has noticed some interesting trends in his new industry.
One is that builders are tending to move away from the deemed-to-satisfy Elemental Provisions of the Australian Building Code, which allow for a do-it-yourself assessment to achieve the required six star NatHERS standard and towards using an accredited software-based assessment approach.
The reason, he said, was the challenging provision for glazing in the DTS, as the cost of efficient glazing can pressure budgets. By contrast the software approach is holistic, and elements such as superior insulation can be used to reduce the requirement for double-glazing while still achieving the six stars.
“I get a sense of friction with the building industry, particularly some of the volume builders, that they have some grievances with house energy requirements as including those elements such as double glazing can reduce margins,” Mr Adams said.
“However I do not get a sense of that with individuals – I get a sense they want to do the right thing.”
Looking back on the oil and gas industry, Adams says he feels a “sense of relief” to be out of it.
“I am a big picture thinker and I became increasingly aware that humanity’s long-term future is not in fossil fuels and that man-made climate change is creating a shorter term problem,” he said.
Among the practices he’s happy to leave behind is fracking, especially for the type of chemicals it leaves behind in the ground and in groundwater.
“Federal and state policies that are more supportive of fossil fuel industries than they are of energy efficient housing are detrimental to our work in building more and better designed homes.
“Educational and promotional campaigns are needed to improve homeowners’ knowledge and understanding of energy efficient home design and also the necessary behaviour changes needed to get the most out of good passive solar design.”