The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has welcomed the recent announcement by the Australian Government to fund energy efficient housing for low income groups. Described by the ASBEC as a welcome first step to improving the built environment, the $250 million program will finance the development of energy efficient homes for low income earners.

Observing that Australia’s housing sector was responsible for 13 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, ASBEC President Ken Maher said the funding program was a good first step towards improving the country’s building stock.

However, he notes that more efforts are required to leverage the great potential offered by the building sector in improving energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption in Australia’s homes. According to Maher, a coherent, nationally consistent framework for rating housing sustainability is essential to ensure that any efforts to improve housing energy efficiency are properly delivered, credibly verified and clearly communicated.

ASBEC has called for a new nationally consistent rating framework for housing sustainability, consisting of three key elements: minimum regulatory performance standards in new buildings; benchmarks for market comparison of best practice sustainability performance; and communication messages explaining the value of sustainability features to renovators and homebuyers.

Maher added that investment in long term energy efficiency should be informed by a clear regulatory, market and communications framework to ensure value and performance are delivered.