Policy Perspective - May 2019

15 May

As Australians head to the polls for the 2019 federal election, we recap some of the critical advocacy work we've been doing to ensure strong policy action on sustainable buildings, cities and communities.

2019, a climate change election

With the 2019 Federal Election days away, climate change continues to remain high on the campaign agenda. It is an issue that has featured prominently in the GBCA’s election campaign to date, as we talk to the major parties and call for greater federal action to improve building performance, reduce emissions and transition the sector to a net zero economy.

One of the most welcome responses to date has come from the ALP, who have committed to developing an innovation agenda for the built environment sector. Among the issues the agenda will address include a proactive approach to the National Construction Code, as well as a roadmap to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency for buildings.

The Greens response was likewise promising, proposing that the recommendations from the GBCA’s Carbon Positive Roadmap should be implemented through a new government authority tasked to oversee GHG emissions cuts across the economy.

And earlier this year, we welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of additional investment in energy efficiency programs and COAG’s Low Energy Buildings Trajectory work program, which outlined a pathway towards ‘zero energy and carbon ready buildings’.

In addition to the focus on carbon, the GBCA’s Federal Election policy platform calls for government leadership, better planning outcomes for our cities and communities, smarter infrastructure investments and a national plan for delivering affordable, sustainable housing. Backed by our work with government over the past 12 months, it provides a clear agenda for policymakers to deliver greater value through investment, improve the liveability of our communities and build a stronger, more resilient built environment that can withstand future shocks.

The Climate Council recently presented a stark warning about the cost of climate change and extreme weather to Australia’s property sector. Based on economic modelling, their latest report shows that climate change is likely to be a major threat to our financial stability through direct shocks to our property and infrastructure.

It’s a timely reminder that governments may come and go, but the need for more urgent action on climate change will remain if we want to avoid its costly impacts.

The GBCA looks forward to working with policy makers to ensure that Australia’s built environment – and the regulatory settings which support it – is working in the best interests of our sector and our communities in the face of change.

Should you have any feedback for the GBCA’s policy priorities, please don’t hesitate to email Sandra Qian, Senior Advisor – Policy and Government Relations.

Listen to our latest The Voice podcast featuring Jonathan Cartledge, Interim CEO on the GBCA’s policy priorities in the wake of the Federal Election.

Read the GBCA’s Policy Platform here.

ASBEC puts out call to action on cities

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council has released a new policy platform ahead of the Federal Election which calls for federal leadership to create great cities.

Developed through the Cities and Infrastructure Taskgroup, Thriving Cities advocates a coordinated, national approach to urban policies, underpinned by a shared vision that addresses challenges associated with population settlement, productivity, climate and demographic change and a low carbon future.

Key policy recommendations include:

  • Investing in improved policy and governance, including a National Settlement Strategy and better procurement.
  • Delivering more balanced business cases to realise better value from our infrastructure.
  • Improving housing outcomes for more affordable, equitable and sustainable living.
  • Adopting key recommendations of the House of Representatives Standing Committee Building Up and Moving Out report.

Australia has for the first time in its history established a multi-party consensus supporting a national approach to cities, which has seen the value of better urban policies understood. In recent years, ASBEC has welcomed the appointment of a Federal Minister for Cities, the release of the National Cities Performance Framework and the launch of City Deals across Australia. Taking the learnings from these initiatives, and the findings of the Building Up and Moving Out report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, the platform seeks to provide practical and tangible reforms to set the stage for our cities of the future.

Read Thriving Cities here.

National Construction Code 2019 now live

On 1 May, the 2019 edition of the National Construction Code was adopted by all states and territories.

There is a 12 month transitional period until 1 May 2020 which applies to the energy efficiency provisions in Volume One and Volume Two. During this time, either the new NCC 2019 provisions or those from NCC 2016 may be used.

Having participated in the consultation process, the GBCA congratulates the Australian Building Codes Board on the open and comprehensive engagement it has undertaken to develop the NCC 2019 and we welcome the changes, in particular the new energy efficiency provisions for commercial buildings which have undergone their first major overhaul since 2010. The package of measures for Volume One focuses on reducing energy consumption by a potential 35 per cent, and new verification methodologies have also been introduced to demonstrate compliance with the relevant Performance Requirement by way of Green Star and NABERS.

While the new commercial energy efficiency provisions represent a step change for commercial buildings, our work on Built to Perform over the past two years indicates that a step-change for residential buildings is also necessary. We have advocated to governments that this should be included in the next update of the NCC in 2022, as part of a long-term plan with targets and a clear, regulated and transparent process for Code updates out to 2030.

Throughout the month of May, the GBCA is supporting the ABCB with a national roadshow of events on changes to the energy efficiency provisions in the NCC 2019. The seminars, which are being held in every major city (excluding NT) will feature speakers from the ABCB, GBCA, NABERS and Property Council, providing everything you need to know to ensure the changes achieve real energy and greenhouse gas savings once implemented.

If you are unable to attend, a webcast will be made available from the ABCB website following the last session.

Register now to secure your spot.