Renew submission to Trajectory for Low Energy Existing Buildings

On 1 February 2019 Energy Ministers agreed the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings, a national plan that sets a trajectory towards “zero energy (and carbon) ready” buildings for Australia.

As well as supporting increased energy performance standards for new buildings, Energy Ministers also committed to considering options for raising the performance of existing buildings in late 2019. This is a welcome recognition that without action, the poor efficiency performance of our existing housing stock will continue to impose significant energy hardship, health and climate risks for decades into the future.

Renew has welcomed the opportunity to actively contribute to the process to develop the options to be considered by Energy Ministers at their December 2019 meeting, particularly through response to the Trajectory for Low Energy Existing Homes Consultation Paper released in July 2019. Key points made in the Renew submission include:

  • Proposed timelines do not reflect the urgency of climate crisis. The building sector offers significant, rapid and low-cost carbon emission reduction opportunities relative to other sectors of the economy such as agriculture and transport. Failing to fully capitalise on building sector opportunities risks significantly increasing the cost and time-frame of meeting emission reduction targets consistent with limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees.
  • Thermal efficiency should be prioritised. Benefits to households (cost of living, health and well-being), energy markets and government budgets (health, concessions) will be maximised by an approach that prioritises reducing energy demand through improved building shell thermal efficiency, before considering complementary renewable energy supply. By contrast, too greater focus on renewable energy runs the risk of its deployment at the expense of energy efficiency, given the current cost and value of rooftop solar in particular.
  • Approach must be systemic. Policy options which drive broad-based, systemic change that is resilient to changes in government and funding priorities and leverages complementary private investment should be prioritised. Informed by our extensive research and policy expertise, Renew recommends the priority policy options as:
    • Mandatory disclosure of efficiency rating for owner-occupied homes leading to minimum standards at the point of sale over time;
    • Mandatory minimum efficiency standards for rental homes (acknowledging that disclosure may play a role in a staged implementation approach);
    • Energy efficiency improvements to public and community housing.
  • Joint commitment to individual but harmonised action. An effective policy model would seek commitment to key policy priorities at a COAG level, with implementation at a jurisdictional level consistent with agreed national principles.
  • An ambitious forward trajectory is key. Renew supports the concept of a staged approach to implementation, as long as timelines are consistent with addressing urgent climate and social justice challenges.

As well as making our own submission, Renew has also actively contributed to a joint submission with our social sector partners in the national Community Coalition for Healthy and Affordable Homes.