While Iceland generates 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources and Costa Rica is set to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world, Australia continues to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to energy efficiency.
For most Australian businesses, which spend about 15 per cent of their operating expenditure on energy, this issue isn't just about climate change.
Its about boosting profits and improving energy productivity. It makes good business sense to be as energy efficient as possible – from reducing HVAC costs to reviewing power purchasing agreements for wind and solar power – its about getting more bang for your buck.
One area in need of massive improvement is the energy performance of Australia's building stock.
News that state and territory energy ministers’ have agreed to support a Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings was
welcomed by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia this week.
The ‘Trajectory’ proposes a pathway towards “zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings”, increases to the energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code (NCC) 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.
She 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,” Toumbourou said.
“The NCC sets minimum standards for all new Australian buildings, so it is the best place to start to improve building energy performance. By strengthening the NCC 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, Tony Arnel said COAG Energy Council’s commitment to a forward pathway for energy requirements in the NCC 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 NCC 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.
In preparation for significant changes in the 2019 edition of the National Construction Code (NCC), a series of seminars will be held across Australia during February and March.
The seminars, hosted by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), will provide an overview of the changes in the NCC.
Standards Australia will also participate in the seminar series which will cover energy efficiency and outcomes of the Acceptable Construction Practice project including roof and wall cladding, fire safety, decks and balconies.
A Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) update will be available via webcast in May 2019.
The half day sessions will run from 9.30am to 12.30pm in all locations. Due to demand, there will be an additional afternoon session in Sydney and Melbourne from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. The seminar fee is $160.
The first event will be held in Canberra at the National Convention Centre on February 12, 2019.
It will be followed by Perth on February 19 and 20 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and Darwin on February 26.
Brisbane seminars will be held on February 28 and March 1 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The next series of seminars will be in Sydney at the International Convention Centre on March 5 and 6, fiollowed by a seminar at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart on March 8, 2019.
Finally, seminars will be held in Melbourne on March 13 and 14 and Adelaide on March 15, 2019.
For details email firstname.lastname@example.org