THE state government will defer a mandatory introduction of six-star green-star energy efficiency requirements to new residential building projects for 12 months, following a five-year campaign against the proposed amendments by the Master Builders Associ
THE state government will defer a mandatory introduction of six-star green-star energy efficiency requirements to new residential building projects for 12 months, following a five-year campaign against the proposed amendments by the Master Builders Association of Western Australia.
The amendments to the Building Code of Australia, which are scheduled to come into effect in May next year, propose applying six-star green-star energy rating requirements to every new home built in Australia.
A spokesperson for Commerce Minister Troy Buswell said the state government intended to postpone the introduction of six-star standards until May 2011, to allow the WA building industry to identify how six-star energy efficiency could be delivered in a cost-effective manner that conformed to local industry practice.
The spokesperson said the government also shared concerns with the MBA that the proposed amendments would provide little economic benefit.
“The regulatory impact statement prepared by the Australian Building Codes Board indicates marginal economic benefit nationally from adapting existing designs, and in Western Australia the costs may exceed the benefits,” the spokesperson said.
“The state government wants further examination of costs for Western Australian conditions before committing to increased standards.”
MBA Western Australia director of housing and economics Gavan Forster said the 12 month deferral would allow builders to produce six-star green-star display homes and ensure builders’ accounting and internal systems were updated for the change.
He said economy-wide impacts associated with six-star energy efficiency, such as electricity savings and a shift to smaller appliances, did not appear to offset the negative impact of the proposals in net present value terms.
“I don’t think the case is at all clear that it will have a positive economic benefit,” Mr Forster said.
“When you get a cost benefit analysis, which has been done independently, showing that the benefits are marginal at best, then it supports the builders’ contention that affordability arguments should be well and truly considered if there are no particular benefits from doing this.
“Basically what it will mean is there will be more things needed to go into a house to make it energy efficient and make it six-star compliant.
“The builders are concerned about that and its effect on affordability.”
Mr Forster said the MBA would campaign for the policy to be applied to existing housing stock, rather than new houses, as he believed more cost-effective results could be achieved.
In its October submission to the Australian Building Codes Board, the MBA said the building industry could make a significant contribution to energy efficiency through public education of best practice and design, and direct subsidies or rebates to assist with the installation of improved insulation, solar hot water systems and similar measures.
For existing housing stocks, the state government will introduce mandatory disclosure of green-star ratings at the point of sale or lease in 2012.
“If you’re going to achieve substantial energy savings you’ve got 98 per cent of houses with no requirement and new ones having six-star requirements,” Mr Forster said.
“The bang for the buck is in the established market.”
“We think that it should go more than just disclosing what this rating is; it could be at the point of sale or a new lease that the new owner or landlord would be required to upgrade the house.
“So if you’re going to make six-star mandatory in the new housing sector, at least in the established housing sector have that disclosure, but also require that the house be retrofitted to come up to the standard of six-star energy efficiency when the house is sold or leased.”