Better building code would give industry certainty and save on home energy bills 

Energy standards for new homes can be strengthened and should be put on a trajectory of regular increases rather than forcing home buyers to wear the costs of big jumps once a decade, said the Property Council of Australia.

The comments follow the release of a new report for the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia’s new report, The Bottom Line – household impacts of delaying improved energy requirements in the Building Code.

The Property Council welcomed the report’s findings, which showed that updating Australia’s Building Code to strengthen energy efficiency standards for new homes could cut heating and cooling energy use by up to 51 per cent and deliver savings of up to $150 per household per year on energy bills.

“Energy standards for new homes should go up over time and it makes sense to start now rather than force dislocating change later,” Chief Executive Ken Morrison said.

“Setting a clear forward trajectory for increasing energy standards sends a signal to the industry which allows it to adjust.

“Regular modest increases are much better than years of inaction followed by big increases.  When it comes to energy regulation for new homes, slow and steady wins the race.”

“Energy standards for the National Construction Code have not been updated since 2010 and are won’t be updated in 2019 for residential buildings, despite a substantial increase on the cards for commercial buildings.

“If we continue with this stop start approach, then the cost of compliance will be much higher, and Australia will miss an easy opportunity to reduce our carbon emissions.

“As this report shows, simple energy efficiency improvements such as air tightness, ceiling fans, and roof insulation can save families money and have a big impact on energy infrastructure outlays.

“Some 58 per cent of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 haven’t been built yet – so inaction now locks in poor performing homes for decades to come.

“Australian property companies have led the world in creating sustainable buildings for seven years running. It is a highly innovative industry that responds to clear signals.

“Buildings account for 23% of national greenhouse emissions so the industry expects standards to change as we move towards a more sustainable future in line with our climate change targets.

“Construction code upgrades are one part of the framework needed to drive change in the built environment, along with targeted incentives and measures to encourage onsite generation of renewable energy.

“The report shows that many changes to the Building Code could be made for very moderate costs and cut emissions by around 10.8 million tonnes to 2050 – more than the amount emitted annually by Victoria’s Loy Yang B coal-fired power station.

“It finds that if just one household cuts their peak demand by one kilowatt (kW) through good design – the power used to run a small oil heater – this would save almost $1,000 in electricity system infrastructure, reducing electricity prices for everyone.

“In total, the report finds that the proposed changes could save an estimated $1.2 billion to 2050 through avoided and deferred network investments.

The Property Council is a member of ASBEC, which commissioned this report.

Media contact:  Fiona Benson | M 0407 294 620 |  E fbenson@propertycouncil.com.au