A new report outlines a roadmap for sustainable homes that would benefit builders, consumers, the economy and the environment.
The report found that while two thirds of Australian homebuyers prefer energy efficient homes when given a choice, significant barriers prevent them from turning that desire into reality.
“Our research shows that Australians want homes that are comfortable, healthy and affordable – all things that a sustainable home can deliver,” says Scientia Professor Deo Prasad (AO), chief executive officer of the CRC for Low Carbon Living.
“Sustainable homes require less energy to heat and cool, enhance occupant comfort and are more resilient to climate and weather extremes. They can also be a driver for economic growth,” Professor Prasad says.
According to the report, Australian homes currently contribute around 13 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Preliminary economic modelling outlined in the report finds that accelerating Australia’s transition to sustainable housing would deliver more than half a billion dollars of extra investment in the construction industry by 2030. It would also create more than 7,000 new jobs and save Australians $600 million on their energy bills.
While the opportunities are significant, the report identifies several barriers.
Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) executive director Suzanne Toumbourou says some Australian homebuilders are already striving to move beyond minimum requirements by incorporating energy efficient designs and technology innovations into new homes. However, they lack scale and face significant barriers and consumers are unclear of their choices.
"Homebuilders are locked into business models and supply chains that limit innovation. And financiers don’t value sustainable homes,” Toumbourou explains.
The report proposes a ‘Sustainable Homes Transition Roadmap’ with four clearly defined steps to address these barriers:
- Differentiate sustainable housing in the market
- Train and reward the construction industry
- Build awareness
- Broadcast the positive business case.
Ms Toumbourou says the roadmap presents an opportunity for the industry to address challenges and achieve a smooth regulatory transition as the Australian Building Code Board responds to COAG’s Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.
“Our research shows that, with the right incentives and support, the transition to sustainable homes can create a win outcome for builders, consumers, the economy and the environment,” she says.
Professor Prasad says Australia’s world-leading approach to sustainability in the commercial sector underscores these opportunities.
“We have the skills, knowledge and technologies at our disposal. Now we must create the right policies and incentives to help Australian home builders deliver the benefits of sustainable homes.”
Growing the Market for Sustainable Homes was developed in partnership between the CRC for Low Carbon Living, ASBEC and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Collaborative Sustainable Housing Initiative (CSHI), supported by research led by CSIRO.
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