7-star housing is a step towards zero carbon – but there’s much more to do, starting with existing homes

(The Conversation, 29 Aug 2022) Energy-efficiency standards for new homes in Australia are being upgraded for the first time in a decade. New homes will be required to improve minimum performance from 6 stars to 7 stars under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).

Federal, state and territory building ministers agreed on the change last Friday.

The rating will also use a whole-of-home energy “budget”. This will allow homes to meet the new standard in different ways. The standard will come into force in May 2023, and all new homes will have to comply by October 2023.

On Monday, the NSW government also announced large commercial developments, as well as big state projects, will have to submit a “net-zero statement” to gain planning approval. The statement must show their buildings are either all-electric or can fully convert to renewable energy by 2035. In addition, new homes and renovations will have to reach a 7-star rating under the state’s Building Sustainability Index (BASIX). The current minimum is 5.5 stars.

These upgrades represent a step in the right direction, but much more remains to be done to future-proof Australian homes. Buildings account for about 20% of the nation’s emissions. Further upgrades to the National Construction Code (NCC) are needed before 2030 to achieve Australia’s climate targets.

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The Conversation, 29 Aug 2022: 7-star housing is a step towards zero carbon – but there’s much more to do, starting with existing homes