COAG’s support for stronger building energy standards opens the door to higher performance, at lower cost

As we face the extremes of more record-breaking heatwaves, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia have welcomed state and territory energy ministers’ decision to support a Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.

The ‘Trajectory’ proposes a pathway towards “zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings”, increases to the energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code and further consideration of options for existing buildings.

ASBEC Executive Director Suzanne Toumbourou said more energy efficient homes and commercial buildings can deliver more resilience to extreme weather, better comfort and reduce stress on the electricity grid, providing an imperative to act now on improving the energy performance of our building stock.

Ms Toumbourou said the energy performance of buildings isn’t just about energy bills and comfort.

“Almost all buildings built today will still be operating in 2050, at a time when Australia will need to be at or near net zero emissions.

“The National Construction Code sets minimum standards for all new Australian buildings, so it is the best place to start to improve building energy performance. By strengthening the National Construction Code we can ensure new buildings are ‘zero carbon ready’ to plug into a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

COAG’s ‘Trajectory’ aligns closely with ASBEC and ClimateWorks’s recent report Built to Perform - An industry led pathway to a zero carbon ready building code, which recommends a pathway for energy targets for subsequent updates to the Code.

Chair of ASBEC’s Building Code Task Group and President of the Energy Efficiency Council, Professor Tony Arnel said COAG Energy Council’s commitment to a forward pathway for energy requirements in the National Construction Code would provide certainty for the construction industry.

“If developers and manufacturers know how the Code requirements will evolve over the next 15 years, this will provide the regulatory certainty industry needs to plan and invest in new technologies, delivering higher building energy performance at lower cost,” he said.

ClimateWorks Project Manager Michael Li said the Built to Perform report showed that stronger energy standards in the National Construction Code could reduce household energy bills by up to $900 each year, contributing to up to $29 billion in reduced energy bills and 78 million tonnes of cumulative emissions savings across the economy by 2050.

“Stronger energy standards in the Code could also relieve pressure on Australia’s ageing energy infrastructure, cutting electricity network costs by up to $12.6 billion between now and 2050,” he said.

“These savings could be achieved through simple, cost-effective energy efficiency measures such as improved air tightness, double glazed windows, increased insulation, outdoor shading, and more efficient air conditioners, hot water systems and lighting.”

An alliance of consumer groups including the Australian Council of Social Service, CHOICE, the Consumer Action Law Centre and Brotherhood of St Laurence has also called for better minimum standards for new and existing housing in the interests of healthier, safer and more affordable homes for all Australians.

“The measures outlined by the COAG Energy Council will set Australian buildings on a firm trajectory towards saving money on energy bills, lowering emissions, easing the strain on our energy infrastructure and being truly comfortable and safe in all extremes of the Australian climate.” said Ms Toumbourou, “In the midst of another stifling summer, this forward-thinking commitment is a breath of fresh air.”

 

Available for comment

Suzanne Toumbourou, Executive Director, ASBEC, 0423 407 467

Professor Tony Arnel, Chair, ASBEC Building Code Task Group, 0408 480 686

Eli Court, Program Manager, ClimateWorks Australia, 0412 169 488

 

Further Information:

COAG Energy Council Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings

ASBEC and ClimateWorks Built to Perform: An Industry Led Pathway to a Zero Carbon Ready Building Code

Consumer and community groups Consumers call for government and industry to set higher energy performance standards for all Australian homes

 

About ClimateWorks

ClimateWorks Australia develops expert, independent solutions to assist the transition to net zero carbon emissions for Australia, South-east Asia and the Pacific. It was co-founded in 2009 by The Myer Foundation and Monash University and works within Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

ClimateWorks acts as a bridge between research and action, analysing net zero pathways and advising governments, businesses and investors to facilitate conditions that encourage and support the transition to a prosperous, net zero emissions future.

 

About ASBEC

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) is a collective of leading industry organisations committed to a sustainable built environment in Australia.  ASBEC’s membership consists of a range of key industry government and academic organisations who are involved in the planning, design, delivery and operation of our built environment and who are concerned with the economic, social and environmental performance of the sector.  

ASBEC’s activities, including research and policy development on built environment issues, are an example of a collaborative, co-ordinated approach undertaken across all segments of the built environment. ASBEC works actively to develop and promote leading practice in the design, planning and operation of our cities, at a buildings, precincts and citywide scale.