Media Releases | 16th Apr, 2012

Throwing out building standards would damage environment and hurt household budgets

Monday, 16 April 2012

Environment Victoria has warned the Baillieu Government today that abandoning its pre-election commitment on building standards for new homes and renovations would be a betrayal of its promise to tackle rising costs of living for all Victorians.

The Age newspaper revealed this morning that Treasurer Kim Wells is pressuring Planning Minister Mathew Guy to propose alternative ‘voluntary’ building standards, despite a clear pre-election commitment to support the 6 star building standard, and to go further by raising existing Victorian homes to a 5 star standard.

Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said today:

“The Baillieu Government appears to be caving in to parts of the building lobby who want to cut corners and lower the standards of new homes. The 6 star standard was introduced because it was proven to reduce living costs for households over the life of the building. This latest move by the Baillieu Government is not just an attack on the environment, it’s an attack on affordability for Victorians struggling with rising energy and water bills.

“The Baillieu Government is giving every impression it doesn’t care about the environment but it continues to pay lip service to being concerned about the cost of living. Because most people rent or buy an existing house rather than purchase a new one, we need to mandate sustainable features otherwise future Victorian households will have to endure sub-standard, uncomfortable and expensive homes for decades to come.

According to the Building Commission’s website this morning:“6 Star homes are projected to use 24 percent less energy through heating and cooling compared to 5 Star homes. This will see Victorians saving a further $100 off their energy bills each year. This is only an average saving. Residents who use their energy features in their home wisely will save even more.”

“Over the past decade Australian governments have continued to strengthen building standards because doing so is in the public interest. Yet it appears there may have been a secret handshake between the Master Builders Association and Baillieu Government to revisit this issue despite the national standards being agreed to in 2010.”

Mr Wakeham concluded:

“This backwards step by the Baillieu Government is also seriously out of step with community opinion. A detailed poll of Victorians undertaken in January this year found that 96 per cent of Victorians were very worried about the cost of energy and water bills and 71 per cent thought that the Baillieu Government should support people to make their homes more energy and water efficient, while just 4 per cent opposed such moves.

A Portland-based builder Peter Reefman said this morning:

“Removing the 6 Star minimum rating system will make low income families more exposed to energy price rises.The cost of achieving a 6 Star rating is insignificant in comparison to house build costs and longer term operating costs.Rather than scrapping the star rating, some developments such as the Cape Paterson Ecovillage show that even higher minimum energy ratings make absolute financial sense.”

Post Script


Monday, 16 April 2012

Environment Victoria’s Mark Wakeham said today:

Environment Victoria welcomes Premier Baillieu’s confirmation this afternoon that “The six star ratings will stay”. Minimum building standards reduce energy and water use, deliver an environmental benefit, make homes more comfortable and safer to live in and reduce power and water bills.

The State Government should never have considered scrapping them. Now they need a plan to improve the energy and water efficiency of the entire Victorian housing stock to 5 star as they promised ahead of the election.

We hope today’s decision signals a change in direction on environment policy from the Baillieu Government as the decisions they have been making to date have been out of step with Victorians aspirations for their environment.