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Housing : July 2009
Six-Star Debate a rising star S In recent years there have been significant increases in energy efficiency regulations for new homes and renovations. Kristin Tomkins reports. A whole-of-community response Energy efficiency of existing buildings is, in the main, less than that of new buildings. Each year, new homes represent only about one per cent of the housing stock. HIA has been at pains to emphasise the importance of the existing dwelling stock in efforts to increase energy efficiency. By 2020, 85 per cent of the dwelling stock will have already been built. The Australian Government has recognised the part households can play in addressing energy efficiency through the insulation rebate on ceiling retro-fits. All governments have signed onto a national mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency of dwellings for sale and rent. As for a nationally coordinated community awareness program on energy efficiency, it doesn’t exist. We need to do a lot better. HOUSING JULY 2009 ix years ago, four-star energy efficiency was mandated for new dwellings. Then in 2006, five-star energy efficiency was brought into the Building Code ofAustralia (BCA). Now all states and territories have agreed with the federal government to make new dwellings subject to six-star energy efficiency standards to take effect byMay 2011, if not earlier. So where does all of this end?What are the government’s intentions?Where is the road map for the building industry to plan ahead with confidence? The development of a National Strategy for Energy Efficiency was endorsed by the Council ofAustralian Government (COAG) in October 2008. The first steps in the strategy are aimed at further improving the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings acrossAustralia. The measures involve: • increasing energy efficiency requirements for new residential buildings to target a minimum six stars, or equivalent, in the BCA 2010 update, to be implemented byMay 2011, as well as new efficiency requirements for hot-water systems and lighting; • phasing in mandatory disclosure of residential building energy, greenhouse and water performance at the time of sale or lease, commencing with energy efficiency byMay 2011; • significantly increasing energy efficiency requirements for all classes of commercial buildings in the BCA from 2010, and; • phasing in mandatory disclosure of the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and tenancies commencing in 2010. While the strategy is intended to provide future directions for the building industry on energy efficiency regulations, the actions targeted in the next few years still appear very shortterm and provide no real indication about what will come next.What will be expected of new homes in 2015 or 2020?Will governments simply expect the stars to continue rising? Housing industry calls for road map HIA National Policy Congress agreed inMay that the association should try to work with government on the identification of a road map of environmental policy for the industry. HIA has written toMinister for the Environment, Heritage and theArts, the Hon. Peter Garrett, outlining our concerns with the development process of the strategy and the need for a road map. HIA is leading a national energy project that is looking at the impact of different environmental standards on the housing industry, covering such areas as construction methods and techniques, products, design and building costs. In the immediate period the industry has to come to grips with six-star energy efficiency requirements on new dwellings. The National Policy Congress has laid down five conditions for moving forward with these requirements. These are: 1.The mandating of six-star energy efficiency rating in new dwellings 9