A report by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) has found Australia’s energy efficiency policy and regulation is not keeping up with market realities and best practices in other OECD countries.

The report's authors have called for a comprehensive review to help Australia transition rapidly to the economically attractive low-carbon built environment of the future.

According to Philip Harrington of Strategy.Policy.Research., who prepared the report (Best Practice Policy and Regulation for Low Carbon Outcomes in the Built Environment) on behalf of the CRCLCL, Australia has some examples of best practice policy and regulation, but there is much room for improvement.

“Australia has some excellent initiatives in the built environment, including the voluntary rating scheme, NABERS, which is recognised around the world; the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) scheme that requires mandatory disclosure of the energy performance of larger office spaces; as well as ambitious local and state government carbon reduction targets, and initiatives requiring above-minimum energy and sustainability performance standards via some local government planning schemes,” said Harrington.

Harrington also found that there is a long list of poor policy and regulatory practices in Australia’s built environment.

"One key reason we are falling behind is that we have not updated regulatory measures, such as minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for buildings, since 2009, and they are not currently scheduled to be updated until 2019 or 2022," he said.

“There is a strong case for expanding and updating existing national measures including the MEPS, Commercial Building Disclosure and the NABERS ratings tools, in the shorter term. Opportunities to take action on this include through the National Energy Productivity Plan and the 2017 Climate Policy Review process, to which the CRCLCL has recently made a submission.”

“There is also an argument for looking to policy models commonly found overseas, of which Australia has previously been wary, including national energy savings targets and related schemes, and market transformation initiatives that bring down the cost of high-performance equipment,” he said.

For a full copy of Best Practice Policy and Regulation for Low Carbon Outcomes in the Built Environment, and the associated Policy Guide Note, visit the CRC for Low Carbon Living website.