Land for sale at Melton. The strategy says a precinct structure plans and planning scheme amendments are still being developed, amended, or being prepared. "There is an opportunity to influence the design of these precincts to host energy efficient buildings.”

Local councils in Melbourne’s western region have agreed to a low carbon plan that includes a cool roofs program for commercial buildings, planning scheme amendments to deliver higher energy efficiency standards for residential buildings, and voluntary incentives for developers of high performance commercial buildings.

The Low Carbon West plan was launched last month by the Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action, which includes the councils at Hobsons Bay, Wyndham, Greater Geelong, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moorabool, Brimbank, with the strategy developed by AECOM and Arup.

Priority areas for attention include improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings, industrial facilities and houses, capturing landfill gas, reducing waste coal mine gas, reforesting and revegetating marginal lands, improving agricultural soils, managing fires in savannah grasslands and managing savannah fires.

A shortlist of 24 actions include:

  • A bulk buy scheme for solar PV for non-residential buildings
  • Promote sustainability measures to the community through the Urban Sustainability Atlas, particularly for new buildings to identify opportunities for solar PV installations. The atlas will also detail thermal conditions for specific sites.
  • Planning scheme amendment for new and renovated residential buildings and new non-residential buildings for buildings to be high performance; in addition, advocate for reforms to improve national building standards such as the National Construction Code
  • Recycling promotion and education
  • Organic waste program to divert organic waste from landfill and redistribute back to households as compost
  • Implement a ‘white roofs’ or ‘cool roofs’ program for non-residential buildings
  • Provide voluntary planning benefits or incentives for high performance non-residential building applicants

According to WAGA’s data, up to 180,000 new homes will be required in the region by 2031, leading to a major increase in overall carbon emissions. Analysis shows there is a direct relationship between the size of dwellings and the level of emissions under current design and construction practices. The commercial sector also shows a similar trend. However, the WAGA region also has Victoria’s highest uptake of domestic solar energy systems, with just over 10 per cent of dwellings having rooftop solar hot water systems and about nine per cent rooftop solar photo voltaic power generation.

The region is also experiencing a transition with the manufacturing and defence land being freed for development. The strategy suggests these sites could become showcases of sustainable design and construction for mixed use projects.

“There is an opportunity to require new buildings to be designed to be energy efficient and renewably powered,” the strategy says. “Over the past decades, building energy efficiency standards have improved substantially. For example, the Victorian minimum standard for new homes is 6-star NatHERS, an improvement since the 4-Star requirements of 2003.

“A number of Precinct Structure Plans and Planning Scheme Amendments are still being developed, amended, or being prepared. There is an opportunity to influence the design of these precincts to host energy efficient buildings.”

There are a number of high-performance building examples in the region, including 5-Star Green Star commercial and education projects, and residential examples including a seven star display home by Burbank and a display home by Lend Lease with a rating of 8.3 NatHERS.

The strategy says that in addition to the GHG emissions reductions possible, there is also the potential for increase in skills and jobs within the region.

A launch was held on November 25 at the Incinerator Gallery in Moonee Ponds, and included a presentation by NuGreen Solutions director Geoff Gourley who gave the audience examples of how carbon savings could be achieved in buildings.

The full strategy documents for Low Carbon West can be downloaded here.