Green energy buildings

State and territory energy ministers’ have given support to a Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings that proposes a pathway towards zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings by increasing the energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code and further consideration of options for existing buildings.

Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (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,” Mr Arnel 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,” Mr Li 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, Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Energy Efficiency Council 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.”

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