The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia have welcomed state and territory energy ministers’ decision to support a Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings which proposes a pathway towards “zero energy ready buildings”, increases to the energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code and further consideration of options for existing buildings.

ASBEC executive director Suzanne Toumbourou says more energy efficient homes and commercial buildings can deliver more resilience to extreme weather, better comfort and reduce stress on the electricity grid, providing an imperative to act now on improving the energy performance of our building stock.

“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,” says Toumbourou.

The National Construction Code sets minimum standards for all new Australian buildings, so it is the best place to start to improve building energy performance. By strengthening the National Construction Code 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, Professor Tony Arnel says COAG Energy Council’s commitment to a forward pathway for energy requirements in the National Construction Code 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.”

According to ClimateWorks project manager Michael Li, “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.”

“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.”

 “The measures outlined by the COAG Energy Council will set Australian buildings on a firm trajectory towards saving money on energy bills, lowering emissions, easing the strain on our energy infrastructure and being truly comfortable and safe in all extremes of the Australian climate,” says Toumbourou, adding that, “In the midst of another stifling summer, this forward-thinking commitment is a breath of fresh air.”