In the wake of Victoria’s warmest and driest winter on record, environment groups today called for new building standards to reduce emissions and water use, and to help the state’s homes and families cope with future temperature and price shocks.
The call coincides with the release of a new report today, which shows that with the right government support and with efforts to fast-track stronger environmental building standards, Victorian homes and neighbourhoods could be emissions-free and water efficient by 2020.
The report, Towards climate safe homes: The case for zero emissions and water saving homes and neighbourhoods, was prepared by Environment Victoria in partnership with the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Friends of the Earth (FoE) and the Moreland Energy Foundation (MEFL).
Environment Victoria’s Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said the Brumby Government had a unique opportunity to reduce emissions and help climate-proof our homes.
“At the moment our inefficient homes are part of the climate change problem,” he said.
“However, the report shows that greenhouse gas emissions from the average home can be reduced by more than 75 per cent with energy efficient design and appliances, while the rest of the home’s energy needs can be supplied by renewable energy. This means our houses can be effectively emissions free and part of the climate change solution.
“With the State Government about to revise the Building Code there is a golden opportunity to set Victoria on the path to zero emission homes by 2020.”
FoE’s campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker said setting strong building standards was one of the cheapest ways to lock in energy and water savings.
“The houses we build today will still be standing in 2050 so we need to make them as efficient as possible,” he said.
“If we are going to ensure that our homes can withstand the extremes of climate change these standards need to be increased immediately to 7 or 8 stars, which will lock in reduced emissions and lower electricity bills for decades to come.
“The report also advocates for a 40 per cent water savings target to be applied to new homes to reduce our dependence on increasingly unreliable water supplies.”
MEFL’s Paul Murfitt said there also needed to be a focus on Victoria’s existing homes.
“New homes will only make up 15 per cent of Australia’s housing stock by 2020, so it is important that state and federal governments also support the renewal of our existing homes,” he said.
“We need major investment from our governments to retrofit low income households for energy and water efficiency, and we also need to apply efficiency standards for homes when they are being sold or leased. You need a roadworthy certificate to sell a car, but we allow thousands of lemons to be sold in the housing market each week.”
The release of the report signals the beginning of a new national campaign calling on governments Australia-wide to strengthen building standards for new homes, provide green makeovers for our existing houses and set zero emissions and water efficiency standards for new homes and neighbourhoods over the next decade.