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    Peak building designers body says the time is ripe for zero energy homes

    Branko Miletic

    There is both a need and an opportunity for consumers to benefit from net-zero-energy homes says the Building Designers Association of Australia (BDA Australia).

    “Australian homes can and must move to being net zero energy now, with immediate benefits to homeowners, as well as long term benefits for society and the planet,” says Ray Brown, BDA Australia’s president.

    Brown notes that the recent upgrade of BASIX in New South Wales only brought the state into line with the other states’ six star requirements - neither of which achieve net zero energy on their own. 

    “The Australian federal government is holding to the Paris commitments, and thus building regulations will be further tightened in coming years. But this shouldn’t stop industry and community from getting on with the job,” says Brown.

    “No one minds if you go beyond BASIX, in fact, to reach a net zero energy home, BASIX scores must be higher than what is required to pass. The old rhetoric ‘it will cost me more’ is coming from inexperience and lack of compelling education,” he says.

    This is consistent with the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council’s (ASBEC) influential “Low Carbon, High Performance” report and their recent announcement of a new collaboration with ClimateWorks Australia to create a long-term trajectory path for achieving net zero-carbon buildings.

    "At the same time, the market is changing at an accelerating pace: real estate agents are increasingly recognising and ascribing added value to sustainability features in homes, as they have been doing in commercial buildings for some years through programs such as Green Star and NABERS," notes Brown.

    The ongoing increase in energy costs is a prime motivator to have a building that provides all the usual creature comforts but requires less energy to run it.

    According to a number of studies, including a recent one that combined a number of UK and Australian researchers, household energy use is a significant contributor to global carbon emissions. International policy is firmly moving towards technology-rich, low- and near-zero-energy homes. 

    That is, buildings designed to reduce the need for additional heating, cooling and lighting. They use efficient or renewable energy technology to reduce the remaining energy use. 

     “We call on the rest of industry to join us and the community on the pathway to net zero energy homes. We encourage our members, and indeed all design professionals, to engage in continuing professional development (CPD) that has a strong sustainability focus, such as the new SustainAbility Design Specialist Masterclass.” says Brown.

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