Community coalition backs 7-star homes with solar

A coalition of 23 not-for-profit community organisations has declared its support for 7-star rated homes with solar as a national minimum building standard.

A major coalition of community groups has joined forces urging Australian Government ministers to support the improvement of energy performance standards in the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC)

Signatories include major peak bodies and organisations across the social services, tenancy, community, and environmental sectors.

The statement was sent this week to all state, territory and Commonwealth Ministers with responsibility for building, construction, and energy portfolios. The intervention comes days before a key meeting of the nation’s Building Ministers at this Friday’s Building Ministers’ Forum.

“Net-zero energy homes are possible, and they’re possible now,” said Rob McLeod, Sustainable Housing Advocate at Renew.

“Too many Australian homes cost too much to run. They’re too cold in winter and dangerously hot during summer heatwaves.

“Energy bills are putting people around Australia under mental and financial stress.

“There has never been a better time to improve home energy standards. Investing in building standards and home retrofits should be a key response to the post-pandemic jobs crisis.

“We’ve seen amazing leadership on home energy performance in the Victorian budget this week. It would be so frustrating if that momentum isn’t built on at a national level.”

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie, said “Too many people on low incomes experience energy debt, deprivation or disconnection because their homes are inefficient and cost too much to run.

“More efficient new homes, combined with improving the energy efficiency of existing homes, is critical to improving social equity, health and wellbeing of people on low-incomes.”

A separate statement of support has been issued by a range of industry organisations who also back improving new home energy standards.

“There is an opportunity, during this time of economic recovery, to focus efforts on reforms that will deliver better productivity and quality outcomes,” wrote Professor Ken Maher AO, president of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, in a letter to Ministers signed by 20 peak built environment bodies.

The National Construction Code is set to be updated in 2022. A minimum 7-star NatHERS rating and net-zero energy use through onsite renewables are under consideration.

Renew analysis has found that building efficient all-electric homes at 7 or more stars pays for itself over a short period by reducing energy bills. 7-star homes require 18-28% less energy to heat and cool than homes built to the current 6-star minimum.

In Melbourne, heating a 7-star home needs less than a quarter of the energy needed for a typical home built before 2000.

10% of new houses and 32% of new apartments already meet a 7-star star standard.

Read the full text of the community statement.