Environmental scientist and television presenter Josh Byrne will lead the National Zero Energy Homes project to encourage Australian developers to build zero energy homes (ZEH).

Launched by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) at its Participants Annual Forum on 15-16 November , the National Zero Energy Homes project involves the construction of three zero energy display homes in new housing developments across Australia, and analysing the data collected to measure consumer interest in ZEH features.

According to CRCLCL chief executive Deo Prasad, the project will focus on developing an agreed position amongst stakeholders on the current barriers put forward by the housing industry in adopting ZEH.

He explained that extensive data will be collected to measure consumer interest in ZEH features; the data will be used by the program to engage with, and inform the development and construction industry of ZEH’s market potential.

Byrne, a senior research fellow at Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute in WA, has been researching zero energy homes extensively through his Josh’s House project. He said the new $500,000 project would contribute significantly to achieving a zero carbon future by 2050.

Roughly 100,000 detached houses are built in Australia each year with the average operational greenhouse gas emissions being seven tonnes per dwelling. If all new homes are built along ZEH design principles, the total emissions would be reduced by around 700,000 tonnes per year, he says. 

 Byrne observes that the housing sector can easily help Australia meet its carbon reduction target of zero emissions by 2050. However, unlike the European Union or the State of California in the United States where regulations are already in place to adopt ZEH for all newly constructed homes by 2020, Australia lags behind in this area, a situation that the program aims to change.

Professor Prasad adds that the ZEH program is part of a suite of CRCLCL programs that are on track to meet a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 10 megatons by 2020.