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    Architects not convinced by Victoria's change from VEET to My Star energy scheme

    Nathan Johnson

    If re-elected on November 29, Victoria’s Napthine government have proposed to implement a new voluntary home rating scheme called My Star which will offer home owners the ability to receive an energy efficiency rating for their home from an accredited expert.

    The system, which is already piloting it in various homes around Victoria, will replace the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme which will be axed at the end of 2015. The government says that the new scheme will save costs and help the state move towards a sustainable future. 

    But the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) are not convinced that this will be the case.    

    The cost for acting on the advice from these assessors, such as insulating a home or purchasing efficient lighting, will not be subsidised like in the VEET system and will be placed in the control of the market.

    The amendment to the VEET legislation will also reduce the state's target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5.4 million tonnes to a transitional target of two million tonnes for 2015.

    Speaking on behalf of the Victorian Chapter of the AIA, Michael Shaw of Connor Pincus consulting engineers said he is unconvinced that the proposed My Star ratings scheme will have any advantages over the axed VEET system and is worried that it will just be another wasteful policy that has no real benefit to the environment.

    “It appears that the scheme will not require any actions on the part of householder recipients to actually reduce energy in return for their free or subsidised advice,” he said.

    “I only support government money or consumer cross subsidies being handed out when it achieves guaranteed energy saving outcomes.”

    Shaw did say however that that a state-based carbon abatement policy is needed and that he would prefer costs for these programs be made up by means other than cross-subsidies.  

    “On the announcement this year of the abolition of the VEET scheme to save money for consumers, if the government wishes to get serious about lowering householder power bills the Vic state government needs to lobby the national regulator – the Australian Energy Regulator - to reign in the endless annual price hikes for the network monopoly businesses who have been goldplating their networks for years in spite of falling electricity demand,” he said.

    “In the absence of any real carbon abatement plan at the national level I believe there is room for a credible State-based program, but from my limited knowledge of VEET and the proposed My Star scheme I do not think these fit the bill.”

    AIA Victorian Chapter President Peter Mallat agrees with Shaw, suggesting “generally we are in support of energy rating systems if they effectively limit water and energy consumption.”

    A spokesperson for Victorian energy minister Russell Northe said the scheme will undertake a consultation with stakeholders before rolling out the full scheme state-wide. However she did not mention the AIA as being one of those stakeholders which left both Malatt and Shaw disappointed.

    "I feel disappointed that the government did not see the Institute as a stakeholder on the issue of residential energy efficiency," said Shaw.

    How these “accredited assessors” gain their accreditation is also yet to be disclosed by the Napthine government.

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