Almost 8 million pre-energy rated Australian homes are now well past their use by date, contributing up to 18 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and are a real liability when it comes to hitting our Paris Agreement commitments for net-zero emissions. What is startling is that the National Net Zero Emission plans forecasts that by 2050, around 7 million homes will not be subject to improved energy efficiency measures in the National Construction Code with no retrofitted improvements to improve the fabric of these homes.
The twin climate and COVID-19 crises have reinforced the unsuitability of Australia’s 30-year-old+ housing stock on lower income families and younger Australians, who are disproportionately living in lower energy rated homes that impact financially and unnerves well-being.
Countless Australians, particularly in share houses, are only too well aware after months in lock down that average dwellings are cold in winter, hot in summer and prohibitively expensive to cool and heat.
As the report shows, today we have a lot of old homes that are not fit for purpose, that cost a lot to rent and are even harder for young Australians and families to buy.
An existing ‘old’ standard house on existing commuter routes close to jobs can make way for up to three new highly energy efficient, accessible, and well-located dwellings, a proportion of which can go to meeting the surging demand for more sustainable housing.
UK Net Zero Emission Goals
In comparison, the UK government has set an ambitious target in its push to achieve net Zero. Registered housing providers are faced with the task of ensuring all their properties reach Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2030. Alongside building safety, new developments to meet housing shortages and the rising cost of living this is amongst the highest priorities. To assist, the government has promised a £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund over the next ten years, but so far this is only being drip-fed in instalments.
In both countries, the key must be ‘quick wins’. Technology can assist in evaluating asset management data to indicate where biggest ‘bang-for-bucks’ retrofit items can be installed such as insulation, enhanced glazing, intelligent heating controls and low energy lighting before looking at more expensive solutions.
Key findings in this year’s Australian Affordable Housing E-Scan include:
Key Environmental and Social elements
- There are at least 8 million (out of 10.6m) existing homes that are often inefficient (contribute 18-20% of carbon emissions as acknowledged by COAG) impacts of this for achieving net zero, as well as increasing the supply of social and affordable housing.
- The recently released National Net Zero Emission plans forecasts that by 2050, around 7 million homes will not be subject to improved energy efficiency measures in the National Construction Code with no retrofitted improvements to improve the fabric of these homes.
- They often sit on larger 800-1000sqm lots, sit on flat land close to commuter routes and jobs, with clear benefits of new housing development, environmental, universal design, wellbeing, economic.
- Australian Social housing stock is often old, less efficient and costly to run with impacts on economic and social wellbeing for those that can afford it least.
- Market acceptance of knock down rebuild to better utilise/densify inner/mid ring developable land.
- Race to purchase flat lots ahead of new accessible design standard coming into the national construction code.
- As is the case in market housing, Australia needs to look to replace ageing social housing stock and create additional social and affordable housing outcomes.
- Renewal of outdated housing is an opportunity to improve liveability, density, energy-efficiency and accessibility, and plan activity in the construction sector to keep the economic recovery going.
Measuring and Managing
A widely used phrase still resonates today ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it’ so by definition technology is the way to measure the impact these homes are having on the environment. SpyderTech is partnering with a leading organisation to create a smart tool that will give clarity on energy consumption, efficiency, environmental impact and recommendations on strategies to reduce emissions in a long-term sustainable way.
In summary, where wholesale replacement of stock is not viable and with a housing stock that is largely aged and outside of current constraints of energy efficiency it is imperative that Australian authorities implement strategies to retrofit ‘smart’ products as the seasons become more extreme. Technology and data will become key in the inevitable journey that has to be embarked upon.
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