18 December 2013 – NSW’s Building and Sustainability Index for new residential building is currently being reviewed, with a view to increasing targets for energy and water efficiency and thermal comfort.
The proposed targets, , expected to yield significant economic benefits, and supporting documents are now out for public comment until 31 January 2014.
BASIX certificates have been required for all developments since 2004, and while Building Code of Australia standards, technology and construction techniques have all advanced since then the BASIX targets have not.
- See our article More time for BASIX submissions
In 2009 the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal recommended to the NSW government that this discrepancy be addressed, and in 2011 a five-year Outcomes Review and Post-Implementation Cost-Benefit Analysis showed that reviewing the targets would be beneficial.
The core proposal is an upward revision of the energy and water targets of around 10 per cent, depending on region.
The proposal also includes caps on heating and cooling, and changes to the zone boundaries, with the requirements for postcode zones altered to more closely reflect what is achievable and appropriate in specific regions and climates.
BASIX ratings are based on benchmarks of average per-person water and energy consumption and greenhouse gas creation, so a BASIX 40 means a development has achieved a 40 per cent saving against the benchmark.
A range of measures can be implemented to achieve the new BASIX targets, such as installing bigger rain tanks, combining ceiling fans for summer cooling with a three-star gas heater for winter warmth, or installing insulation.
Changes can make money for the economy
A cost-benefit analysis by Allen Consulting Group in 2013 for the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure found that the proposed changes would incur a “negative cost”, with benefits from reduced energy and water costs exceeding outlays required for compliance.
Its numbers also showed a net benefit to the NSW economy of $1.64 for every $1 spent, generated through flow-on effects such as growth in sustainable technology and design enterprises, and increased household disposable income from reduced utility bills.
The State Government promises to support industry in complying with any revision of BASIX with measures to include information sessions, support to develop training, “how to” information sheets and extended help desk hours.