Australia’s building industry is seeking a new nationally consistent rating framework for housing sustainability.

According to Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) President Ken Maher, housing is responsible for 13 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions; therefore, improving the sustainability of the country’s housing stock is crucial to meeting targets for emissions reduction. This will additionally increase energy efficiency in homes in a climate of rising energy costs, helping enhance the quality of living for all Australians.

Australia currently does not have a clear national framework for rating housing sustainability, with various ratings and measurement tools only making things complex for industry professionals and incomprehensible to consumers.

Maher emphasises that the industry needs governments to work with them to implement a nationally harmonised sustainability ratings framework for houses. He explained that the framework should consist 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.

The Council of Australian Governments’ National Energy Productivity Plan shows that there are huge opportunities to empower consumers if the rating method for homes is improved. However, the findings of the National Energy Efficient Buildings Project reveal that Australia is falling well short of its potential when it comes to the energy efficiency of its homes.

Observing that the Turnbull Government was committed to improving Australia’s built environment with initiatives such as the creation of Australia’s first federal ministry for Cities and the Built Environment, Prof Maher added that it was time for the Government to act on the building industry’s recommendations and deliver the right tools for measuring housing sustainability.