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Victoria could go it alone on better housing performance

The Victorian government could be preparing to go it alone on raising minimum residential energy efficiency requirements, according to its just-released Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy, revealed at this week’s National Energy Efficiency Conference.

In part of the strategy, “beyond 6-star homes”, the government flagged the potential for Victoria to go beyond the current 6 Star NatHERS thermal performance requirement for new homes, with $1.8 million flagged for a “review of the Victorian variation to the energy efficiency requirements of the National Construction Code”.

“Improved energy efficiency requirements for new homes will be designed in consultation with stakeholders, and any changes will be informed by a cost-benefit analysis and regulatory impact assessment,” the strategy said.

Potential changes were first flagged by The Fifth Estate in May.

The residential improvements also include a $2.2 million program to facilitate the design, marketing and construction of “net zero emissions” homes in the volume home builder sector, which will be headed up by Sustainability Victoria.

A voluntary rating system for homes is also being pushed further, with the government in 2018 to spend $900,000 working with stakeholders to test consumer interest in and market responses to energy ratings information for residential properties, “including whether this is an effective driver for investment in energy efficient upgrades.”

Rental properties will also be tackled with the government exploring a range of options, “including the introduction of a basic standard that focuses on the most critical energy upgrades and does not impose excessive costs on landlords”.

The government has committed a total $55 million to energy efficiency as part of the strategy, which also includes:

  • $8.1 million to improve the Victorian Energy Upgrades program
  • $6.1 million to boost business productivity, including gas efficiency, capacity building and a sustainable finance service
  • $1.8 million to the Better Commercial Buildings program
  • $16.9 million to upgrade the homes of vulnerable households

Energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the strategy would lead to jobs, and cuts in energy bills and carbon emissions.

“The actions in this strategy are expected to support over 2500 jobs per year on average, and will save participating households and businesses around $6.7 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34 million tonnes (CO2 equivalent) between now and 2030,” she said.

“We are setting up Victoria for the future – making it more resilient to energy volatility, strengthening energy and business productivity and supporting a transition to a clean energy future.”

The news was welcomed by the Energy Efficiency Council, which said smart use of energy was the quickest way to bring bills down.

“Energy efficiency might not seem as sexy as solar panels or a big new generator, but it’s the cheapest and quickest way of slashing energy costs,” EEC chief executive Luke Menzel said.

“We look forward to working with Minister D’Ambrosio to implement the ideas in this strategy and scale them up.”

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