The Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) has challenged its members to set new benchmarks in sustainable housing design with yesterday’s announcement of the 10 Star Energy Challenge.

The BDAV is inviting its 1600+ members to submit groundbreaking designs for energy-efficient houses with a 10 star energy rating.

“People are surprised when they hear these houses wouldn’t require any heating or cooling, meaning no household bills for residents and no greenhouse gas emissions for the environment,” BDAV President, Tim Adams, said.

“We all know climate change is a major threat to our communities and to future generations, and this challenge is a way for the BDAV to take the lead to help tackle the problem — while also raising awareness of the need to adapt to climate change.

“I believe there’s a growing acceptance of the need for houses with lower greenhouse emissions and more people are realising this can be done cost-effectively at the outset and in a way that delivers real long-term benefits to families’ hip pockets.”

Research has shown that when compared to a typical existing 3 star suburban home, each additional energy star represents around a $5000 saving in energy costs over 7 years of a home’s life.

“As a designer, if you can design a 10 star energy rated house, then a 6 star energy rated house, or a renovation that aims to improve energy efficiency, won’t be hard,” Adams said.

Rob Gell, prominent sustainable development advocate, national President of Greening Australia, and co-founder of the International College of Environmental Sustainability, is the 10 Star Energy Challenge Ambassador.

“I’m excited about the competition, and very proud to be in the role of ambassador.

“This competition will help the design community focus on the benefits of sustainable design, particularly with this year’s introduction of new minimum 6 star energy ratings for all new Victorian homes and major renovations from May.

"With the need for us to account for our pollution, and discussions of a carbon tax or a trading scheme, the best way to avoid that financial impact will be by having an energy efficient, affordable home," Gell said.

The BDAV will promote the leading designs on its website, showcasing the design skills of BDAV members, and increasing awareness of how household bills can be reduced or eliminated through better design.

Details of the 10 Star Energy Challenge are available at Entries will close on 30 May 2011. The energy ratings for the competition will be determined using an approved energy rating software tool used in Victoria for rating the energy efficiency of houses.