lets get our housing regulations right – more jobs, less greenhouse

A straight forward way to drive the creation of green jobs, and in particular new jobs in manufacturing in Victoria, is to make sure our houses are built to a higher energy standard.

At present, new houses built in Victoria – roughly 40,000 a year - must meet a 5 star energy requirement. In addition to achieving this rating for the building itself, 5 Star also requires either a water tank that must supply water to toilets, or a solar hot water system. This system was  implemented in 2004. Given that the average energy efficiency rating of houses in Victoria was only 2.2 stars before the new system was introduced, this was a great step forward by the state government.

At the most recent the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, held in late April, the states signed up to uniform 6 star energy ratings for new homes. This is a great start in positioning our housing industry as being closer to best practise, but still far short of what is technically possible and economically  viable.

There is a huge potential to go further – to 7 or 8 star ratings or beyond. In 2006 the UK the government announced that by 2016 all new homes will be zero energy buildings – that is they will have zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. In Victoria, if we went to 8 star ratings or above we would drive not only new jobs in construction but also in manufacturing, as past the 8 star level there is greater use of pre fabricated units, like double glazed window units and so on. This would present major opportunities for our manufacturing sector.

Please email the following members of the Victorian government, urging them to adopt 8 star or higher energy ratings.

Many thanks.

----
If you would like to be kept informed of developments around the review of building regulations, please send your email address to: cam.walker@foe.org.au

John Brumby
Premier of Victoria
john.brumby@parliament.vic.gov.au

Gavin Jennings
Minister for Environment and Climate Change and Innovation
gavin.jennings@parliament.vic.gov.au

Justin Madden
Minister for Planning
justin.madden@parliament.vic.gov.au

Richard Wynne
Minister for Housing
richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au

Please send us a copy as well: foe@foe.org.au

Please cut and paste the letter below (and add whatever detail you want) then send (adding your name and address) to the ministers mentioned above.

Dear Premier and ministers

I commend your government on supporting the decision at the recent COAG meeting to adopt uniform 6 star energy rating for new houses in Australia.

However, while this is a considerable improvement on the existing 5 star system, even a 6 star rating system will be well below current standards in Europe.  

We urge you to act quickly and boldly by investigating the possibility of going to an 8 star energy rating or zero net emissions standard. The UK government has already committed to zero emissions housing by 2016.

Such a move would drive down energy costs of new houses, as well as greenhouse gas emissions, whilst driving the creation of new green jobs in construction, installation, maintenance and manufacturing. I know of your government's keen interest in developing new employment opportunities through the creation of green jobs, and believe such a development would be good for employment as well as as a real way of reducing greenhouse emissions from houses.

I accept that there are real cost issues around affordability with any increase in energy ratings, but there are ways to ensure housing is still affordable. One simple option would be to build an efficiency component into the first home owners loan.

8 star or higher energy ratings are viable – we just need the leadership of your government to make it real.

Please use any review of housing regulations as an opportunity to make a rain water tank and solar hot water system both mandatory for new housing.

Yours sincerely