Green homes on the horizon

27 May 2020

Australian homes have always been our castles. But now, as we spend more time at home than ever before, we’ve gained a new appreciation of how important homes are to our health, wellbeing, safety and security.

And this is just one of the reasons we are so excited to be launching our draft Green Star for Homes standard for public consultation soon.

Earlier this month, we released the Green Star for Homes strategy, which outlines our shared vision for healthy, resilient and net zero energy homes. 

Green Star for Homes is one part of our strategy to transform the residential sector. Together with our industry engagement activities and our advocacy priorities, Green Star for Homes is the third pillar in our Future Homes program. This program has a singular goal: every home built in Australia from 2030 onwards must be healthy, resilient and positive.

Our work builds on last year’s ground-breaking report, Growing the market for sustainable homes, in which ASBEC and the former CRC for Low Carbon Living laid out the obstacles and opportunities ahead. 

Residential buildings generate 53% of our total built environment emissions. Two thirds of Australian home buyers would choose an energy efficient home, but they are confused by the terminology and technical information in the market, not to mention the different benchmarking standards and star ratings.

Volume builders – who construct 40% of detached homes – face significant barriers to scale and are locked into business models that restrict innovation. And limited green finance, conservative valuations and artificial caps on lending have also stifled growth in sustainable homes.

After a six-month consultation period with volume builders and developers, financiers, government partners and industry associations we’ve landed on a solution that addresses all these obstacles.

Rather than a numerical star rating, Green Star for Homes is proposed as a standard underpinned by three pillars: health, resiliency and net zero energy. Everyone understands the value of a comfortable, resilient, efficient home that is powered by renewables.

A comprehensive pilot period will test the standard to ensure it meets consumer demand, provides a competitive advantage for volume builders, and assures the best outcomes for banks, investors and insurers.

Our industry partners have backed us in, led by Gold Future Homes Partner Stockland. The diversity of our partners demonstrates the power of this project and the industry’s commitment to change.

There’s Bank Australia, which launched the nation’s first green home loan in January supported by a $60 million investment from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. 

There’s community housing provider SGCH, which has already incorporated sustainability into more than 1,500 new and existing homes

BlueScope, an active member of GBCA since our earliest days, sees the product potential. Landcom are looking to use the standard in new projects and CBUS Property want to support our work in developing a new standard which will set the national benchmark for healthy, resilient and net zero energy homes. And Insurance Council of Australia -  a long-term champion of resilience - will also join us as a Partner.

We don’t need another one-off display home that can’t be purchased by the market, which is why it’s truly exciting to have early commitments from some of Australia’s biggest volume builders and some leading innovators. Chatham Homes, Development Victoria, Ingenia Communities, Metricon, Rawson Homes and Stockland have all agreed to test the standard.

This is a long list of stakeholders, but it demonstrates the extent of our engagement. I think we’ve finally overcome the residential sector’s fragmentation with a new level of collaboration. 

The new Green Star for Homes standard has huge potential to help builders prepare for changes ahead in the National Construction Code and amass case studies to show their customers clear choices. It aligns with the recommendations provided in ASBEC’s Tomorrow’s Homes policy framework released this week

The launch of the standard couldn’t come at a better time, as governments frame their Covid-19 stimulus around residential construction. We are currently in discussions with all states and territories, following several policy wins in this space. The Queensland Government, for example, is now preferencing Green Star in all developments over $100 million. You can read more about this in our opinion piece from Queensland’s Shadow Minister for Energy and Housing Michael Hart in this issue of Green Building Voice.

We’ll also be exploring the proposed standard during Green Building Day Online. Jump on to the livestream event on Tuesday 16 June and then join us later in the year for an in-person networking event after restrictions ease.

We couldn’t have done this industry-changing work without our members. It’s your sustained, long-term commitment that has allowed us to make inroads into residential development. Despite the challenges of 2020, we appreciate your enduring support as we move forward together.