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Victoria’s Plan to Exceed National 6-Star Energy Efficiency Ratings

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The Victorian Government has handed down its Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy in late November, flagging its intention to exceed the current 6 Star NHERS thermal performance requirement for new homes.

It has set aside almost $2 million for a review into “The Victorian variation to the energy efficiency requirements of the national construction code” and will consult with stakeholders on improving energy efficiency for new home builds to develop a cost-benefit analysis and regulatory impact assessment.

The strategy has been developed to transition Victoria to an energy-efficient and more productive economy. 

The Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy has been developed to transition Victoria to an energy-efficient and more productive economy, with the government committing $55 million to the goal.

The Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio said in her foreword: “We are setting up Victoria for the future – making it more resilient to energy volatility, strengthening energy and business productivity, and supporting a transition to  a clean energy future.”  

It plans to fulfill its aims through the achievement of three goals: 

  • Create and maintain Victorian jobs through best-practise energy efficiency and improved productivity

  • Support Victorians to live in comfortable and healthy homes with affordable energy bills

  • Transition to high efficiency, low emissions buildings.

The report notes: “The minimum energy efficiency standards for new homes have not been updated since 2010 and now lag behind international and industry best practise. (…) Standards need to keep pace with developments in technology and building processes so that consumers can benefit from reduced energy costs and improved comfort.”

As part of the last two goals, the Victorian government has committed $2.2 million to create a program facilitating the design, construction, and marketing of volume build homes with “zero net emissions.” The project will be headed by Sustainability Victoria. 

The report has committed the funds to the “zero net emissions” program because it says: “Volume home builders have demonstrated that they can provide effective leadership to the sector.”

“Volume home builders have demonstrated that they can provide effective leadership to the sector.” 

A zero net carbon status will be achieved where a modelled home can demonstrate it has zero net greenhouse gas emissions over a typical year “based on energy used by appliances and lighting, and electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, which offset emissions of the energy used in the home.”

Furthermore, the Government will spend $8.9 million to improve energy efficiency regulations for new homes, strengthen compliance for the as-built quality of homes and promote leading-edge sustainable design through volume home builders. The Victorian Government, as part of the National Energy Productivity Plan, will continue to review the energy efficiency provisions of the national construction code, delivering increased energy efficiency requirements for commercial buildings and improving requirements for residential buildings like quantified performance requirements and improved verification methods.

The report highlights its commitment to improving industry capability and consumer confidence with a $3.3 million investment to undertake a targeted program of inspections to strengthen building industry compliance with energy efficiency regulations.

In conjunction with stakeholders, it has also committed almost $1 million to gauging consumer interest in a voluntary rating system for homes to discover if this will drive investment in energy efficient upgrades.

It will explore the opportunities for a whole house approach to energy efficiency by considering the fixed appliance and renewable energy generation. 

It will explore the opportunities for a whole house approach to energy efficiency by considering fixed appliance and renewable energy generation, which goes beyond the current thermal shell approach.

There are also plans to introduce a basic standard for energy efficiency for rental properties, which will not be too costly for landlords but will focus on the most critical energy upgrades to keep energy bills affordable for tenants.

As part of its holistic approach to energy efficiency within a built environment, the Victorian government will also work closely with real estate and property industry experts to ascertain consumer interest in energy ratings for residential properties. The report notes: “Internationally, homes advertising high energy efficiency ratings sell for five to ten per cent more than other homes and similar results are expected in Australia." 

The full Victorian Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy can be accessed here.

If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks you may enjoy: 

Where is Green Building Headed?

Is Green Building Worth It?

The Future of Green Building

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