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A recent paper presented by PRDnationwide’s National Research Manager Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo at the 10th World Congress on Engineering Asset Management in Finland exposed the information gap that is preventing Australians from actively participating in sustainable housing.

Mardiasmo attributed the Australian public’s passive attitude towards sustainable housing to the lack of clear information about the many features and their benefits. Despite the increased regulatory focus on sustainability practice, the delivery rate of sustainable housing is below expectations within the property market. This is due to the absence of engagement and initiative taken by stakeholders in adapting to sustainable housing practices.

Mardiasmo suggests that key stakeholders such as developers, investors and buyers do not know where to start due to very limited data and research available in this field. She explained that the absence of adequate information on sustainable housing features, perceived unaffordability of the instalment process, and low awareness of potential benefits contributed to the sluggish demand for low and zero carbon homes in Australia.

This information gap on the potential benefits of investing in sustainable housing has resulted in lack of buyer demand and supply chain investment towards the construction and purchase of sustainable housing. Homeowners are also hesitant to add ‘green features’ to their establishments due to uncertainty about the features and their potential value to the home’s sale price.

According to Mardiasmo, homes with specific sustainability-related features in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have seen an average of 33% increment in their sale price; however, information about this hidden economic benefit is not known to many people. She noted that available information about sustainable features consisted of a checklist without any dollar value attached.

Mardiasmo’s paper, Enhancing Information about Sustainability Features for Sustainable Housing Delivery, co-authored with Shi Yee Wong, Connie Susilawati, and Wendy Miller, and presented at the Congress, also reviewed the gap between the availability of information and initiatives by Government, industry, and research groups on sustainability assessment.

Mardiasmo added that a strong foundation can be built for future cities through better understanding of the benefits of ‘green’ features, better approach by relevant stakeholders, and better inclusion of sustainable housing features as a requirement in urban planning. PRDnationwide’s research is expected to assist with reducing the existing knowledge gap surrounding sustainable or ‘green’ features, which will lead to an increase in the supply and demand of sustainable housing.