14 Jul 2022
Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) commends the Victorian government on the release of the Gas Substitution Roadmap (the Roadmap). Moving away from fossil fuels is critical if Australia is to achieve its net zero carbon commitments and the Roadmap identifies opportunities for how this we can achieve this.
All new buildings can be built to be all-electric today. The technologies exist and as shown in GBCA’s recent paper, A practical guide to electrification – For new buildings, the list of successful all-electric examples is growing by the day. We know the Victorian government’s commitment to reduce its own use of gas, paired with the new requirement for all state government infrastructure business cases for new buildings and facilities to provide all-electric options, will lead to great outcomes for building occupants and the environment.
Removing the regulatory requirements for new developments to include gas connections is an important and welcome move. While the Roadmap stops short of banning new gas connections, many leaders in property development are choosing to go all-electric in both new and existing buildings. Research and modelling for the Roadmap shows that new homes that choose to go all-electric should not expect any higher upfront costs than dual-fuel homes. It also shows homes that switch to all-electric could reduce household energy bills by over $1000 per year .
We are pleased to see support for households and business to help owners replace gas hot water and space heating with efficient, low emissions electric equipment through an improved Victorian Energy Upgrades program that will also phase out incentives for all residential gas products. Support includes rebates for households to install solar PV panels, solar hot water and battery systems, and support for low-income households to install more efficient electric heating and cooling systems. The Victorian government’s ongoing support for improved energy efficiency standards in the National Construction Code 2022, and the removal of barriers to installing heat pump hot water heaters in the Plumbing Regulations 2018, are also critical elements of the coordinated approach it will take to achieve our net zero goals.
While GBCA recognises that green hydrogen will play a critical role in the decarbonisation of some industrial processes with high heating requirements, such as steel production, it is not practical substitution/replacement feedstock for gas networks in the built environment. The built environment's operational energy needs can be met through electrification and the technology we need is available now at much less cost than creating new hydrogen-ready infrastructure.
With this Roadmap, the Victorian government has made a great start and we know that there is scope for many of the initiatives included to be scaled up and sped up. With every future revisit and review of the Roadmap, GBCA will be urging the Victorian government to put its foot down on the gas-free pedal and accelerate towards more ambitious targets, deadlines and initiatives for leaving gas behind.
 Victoria State Government. 2022. Gas Substitution Roadmap. p.p.26-27. https://engage.vic.gov.au/help-us-build-victorias-gas-substitution-roadmap