New standard for green homes set to be rolled out

By Gerv Tacadena

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is slated to release a new standard certification for homes that can save as much as 75% in energy costs.

The Green Star certification is planned to be released for consumers next year, making it the world's first mass market residential climate-positive certification.

Ahead of the launch, builders are now being encouraged to adopt the Green Star Homes Standard certification system.

GBCA CEO Davina Rooney said this new standard will help many Australians have homes that are more liveable, marketable, and environmentally friendly.

"We know the energy rating of our fridge, but not of our biggest asset – our home. This certification is designed to change that," Ms Rooney said.

"COVID lockdowns have forced many Australians to confront the reality that in many cases their home is uncomfortable, and costly to run.”

For a house to be certified under the Green Star standard, it needs to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Healthy: ventilated, insulated, with minimal toxins in carpets or paint
  • Resilient: water efficient and climate change ready
  • Climate positive: fully electric, draught sealed, energy efficient, and powered by renewables

"Green Star certified homes will reduce a household’s energy costs by over 75%, through things like solar panels, better insulation, smarter air conditioning, LED lights and electric appliances,” Ms Rooney said.

“The additional design and build costs for a Green Star certified home are within an affordable range.  Most efficiency savings have a five to seven-year payback for the homeowner, including solar power."

The GBCA is currently working with the government to bring the Green Star Homes Standard into the regulatory framework.

The Green Star certification will be equivalent to 7 to 7.5 stars on the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). Currently, the National Construction Code requires a six-star NatHERS rating.

"The recent IPCC Report is a code red.  We need highly efficient buildings powered by renewables to drive critical emissions reductions," Ms Rooney said.

Industry support

The Green Star certification has the support of industry stakeholders, including builders. Stockland and Metricon are among the developers who agreed to adopt the standard.

Stockland group executive and CEO Andrew Whitson said the group will deliver its first Green Star home in its Stockland Waterlea project.

"We’ve seen customer preferences change and accelerate. People are going to work more from home now, so is the home set up to do that? Is it a low energy environment? Is it resilient and healthy? These things will go from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’," Mr Whitson said.

A recent study from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that around two thirds of homebuyers would prefer energy-efficient homes when given the choice.

Insurers also welcomed the Green Star certification.

Insurance Council of Australia CEO and executive director Andrew Hall said it sets a new benchmark for homes that are resilient to natural disasters.

"Homes built to this new standard will help pave the way to ensuring a more insurable Australia," he said.

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