Advocating for sustainable housing

Anne Martinelli is Renew's Sustainable Housing avocate

Renew welcomes Anne Martinelli to the new position of Sustainable Housing Advocate. Anne is responsible for Renew’s advocacy for sustainable housing policy to transform the efficiency, affordability and climate resilience of our built environment. Here she explains her role:

Sustainable housing represents one of the most important policy challenges – and opportunities – we face in 21st century Australia.

We have no chance of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees unless we cut emissions from the building sector by making our homes more efficient. At the same time, with energy prices rising and extreme weather events such as heatwaves becoming more frequent and more severe, we need to be confident our homes can provide safe and affordable shelter into the future. And ensuring the transition to clean energy is fair will depend on everyone, particularly low-income and vulnerable households, having access to efficient, sustainable homes.

So as someone who has been actively involved in these issues for some time, particularly in my previous role as Efficiency Campaigner with Environment Victoria, I am very excited to join Renew to take on the new Sustainable Housing Advocate role. I will be responsible for co-ordinating advocacy for policy change to drive improvements in the performance of all homes, new and existing.

My first priority will be to work with other environment and consumer organisations around the country who share our concerns about poor quality housing, to ensure the next update of National Construction Code mandates higher efficiency standards for new homes. Federal, state and territory energy ministers are meeting in December this year to recommend changes to the code which will come into effect in 2022.

Here at Renew we’ll also be ramping up efforts to secure other important reforms such as efficiency standards for rental homes and mandatory disclosure of efficiency ratings for homes for sale, that will drive improvements in our existing housing stock. There has been important progress in these areas recently, with Queensland and Victoria passing new rental laws that create the power to set minimum standards.

But there’s still more to be done to ensure these standards include basic efficiency measures that will help shield tenants from rising energy bills and health and safety risks of living in inefficient homes. We’ll be continuing to work with our allies including the One Million Homes Alliance in Victoria and consumer organisations around the country to make sure the case for sustainable housing is heard loud and clear by decision makers.

It’s time that all people in Australia lived in housing that was highly energy efficient and sustainable, truly appropriate for the 21st century and resilient in the face of a changing climate!