Property Australia

A new roadmap for sustainable homes


More than half a billion dollars of extra investment in the construction industry and 7,000 new jobs are ahead if Australia accelerates its transition to sustainable housing, finds a new report.

Growing the market for sustainable homes, launched on Monday by the CRC for Low Carbon Living and the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), finds households would also save $600 million on their energy bills.

The report reveals that two thirds of Australian home buyers prefer energy efficient homes when given a choice – but significant barriers prevent them from turning that desire into reality. 

“Our research shows that Australians want homes that are comfortable, healthy and affordable – all things that a sustainable home can deliver,” says chief executive officer of the CRC for Low Carbon Living, scientia professor Deo Prasad AO.

Australia’s homes produce around 13 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions.

“Sustainable homes require less energy to heat and cool, enhance occupant comfort and are more resilient to climate and weather extremes. They can also be a driver for economic growth,” Prasad explains.

Suzanne Toumbourou, ASBEC’s Executive Director, says some Australian home builders are already striving to move beyond minimum requirements.

“However, some of these builders lack scale and face significant barriers. Consumers are unclear of their choices. Home builders can be locked into business models and supply chains that limit innovation. And financiers don’t properly value sustainable homes,” Toumbourou explains.

The report, which was supported by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Collaborative Sustainable Housing Initiative and research led by CSIRO, proposes a ‘Sustainable Homes Transition Roadmap’ with four clearly-defined steps to support market differentiation, industry education and training, consumer awareness and to broadcast the positive business case.

A consumer awareness campaign is an important feature of the roadmap, and would build on a recent project from the CRC for Low Carbon Living and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Renovate or Rebuild. This lifestyle TV program, headed by former contestants of The Block, was recently piloted on YouTube. A third of the almost 4,300 viewers watched the entire episode – a testament to the quality of the content as the retention rate for the average 30-minute YouTube videos is 10 per cent.

The CRC for Low Carbon Living, part of the Cooperative Research Centres program, is currently winding down its activities after seven years of research into how Australia can build healthier, sustainable cities. Over the course of its operation, it has funded 150 research projects to lower carbon emissions in the built environment.

In the meantime, ASBEC is encouraging industry to get behind the roadmap, which Toumbourou says can help achieve a smooth regulatory transition as the Australian Building Code Board responds to COAG’s Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.

“Our research shows that, with the right incentives and support, the transition to sustainable homes can create a winning outcome for builders, consumers, the economy and the environment,” Toumbourou says.

Download Growing the market for sustainable homes.