The Victorian government will put more than $2 million into a new pilot to help the slow-to-innovate volume home build sector develop zero net carbon homes in Melbourne’s growth areas.
The $2.18 million Zero Net Carbon Homes pilot will see Sustainability Victoria partner with land developers and volume home builders to increase the supply of direct-to-market net zero options, with the housing set to include solar energy production and have performance verified with air-tightness testing.
Through the program volume home builders will receive access to technical expertise in order to design and construct least-cost net zero homes, while also receiving marketing strategy advice to increase consumer demand and sell the benefits of net zero homes in terms of reduced bills and greenhouse gas emissions, and increased comfort, health and wellbeing.
“By participating in the Zero Net Carbon Homes Pilot, builders can offer their customers homes that are affordable to heat and cool and provide year-round comfort,” Sustainability Victoria chief executive Stan Krpan said.
“Offering more zero net carbon homes will diversify our building stock, stimulate the economy and reduce bills for homeowners.”
Eligible participants must be able to achieve more than 200 site starts a year and offer products in one or more of Melbourne’s designated growth areas, or in the Geelong and Mitchell regional areas.
The program has been developed off the back of yet-to-be-released Sustainability Victoria modelling that found each net zero carbon home could reduce greenhouse gas emissions to on average six tonnes a year (before factoring in offsets by renewables), down from about 12 tonnes a year for a standard house.
This makes the volume housing market “one of the biggest, most readily available and untapped opportunities for emission reductions, cost savings, improved health and wellbeing, as well as productivity in the residential sector”, Sustainability Victoria said, as between now and 2050, an estimated two million dwellings will need to be built.
Homes will need to meet Sustainability Victoria’s zero net carbon design assessment tool criteria, which includes (but isn’t limited to) high-performance design specifications such as double glazing, high-efficiency HVAC, solar PV, and efficient water heating and lighting.
The homes will also need to meet as-built verification criteria that will be tested and confirmed by a third-party consultant, which will be achievable through design to as-built specification compliance, meeting maximum allowable air leakage rates (through blower door testing) and insulation integrity requirements.
Sustainability Victoria said that the verification objective came about as there was a “lack of a trusted independent endorsement scheme that can enable builders to market and sell these types of homes, and for consumers to have confidence that they are getting what they pay for”.
The program will run until 2020.
Interested companies can register here.