Policy Snapshot - December 2020

03 Dec 2020

The month of November has been exceptional for sustainability in the built environment. The State Governments of Victoria, NSW and South Australia have all made significant investments into unlocking the potential of energy efficiency to reduce emissions and drive the economic recovery from coronavirus. Energy efficiency has also been described by the International Energy Agency as a ‘jobs machine’ and these government investments are predicted to create tens of thousands of new jobs for Australians at a time when they are much needed.

The investments in energy efficiency were bolstered by further support for social and public housing across the States of Victoria and NSW. New and existing social houses will be made to meet high sustainability standards which will increase the comfort and affordability for residents.

Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) welcomed these initiatives that cumulatively amount to record-breaking, multi-billion dollar investments into a more sustainable future.

Kind regards,
Tim Wheeler
Policy Manager

Victoria’s record-breaking investment in sustainable buildings

Victoria has positioned itself as a leader in energy efficiency by committing a combined $1 billion to a swathe of sustainable initiatives for the built environment. The Victorian Government has acknowledged and acted to deliver the immediate economic and long-term environmental benefits of energy efficiency. The following is a summary of the initiatives to be delivered:

$797 million energy efficiency stimulus package that includes:

  • $335 million to replace inefficient heating systems in 250,000 households;
  • $112 million to increase the comfort and energy efficiency of 35,000 social homes;
  • $14 million to upgrade appliances under the Victorian Energy Upgrades program;
  • energy efficiency standards for rental properties will also be developed and put in place no later than 2022.

$191 million to support energy efficiency upgrades for businesses and communities:

  • $100 million to upgrade the government’s own operations;
  • $31 million co-investment for energy efficiency upgrades for large energy users;
  • $30 million to improve agricultural energy management;
  • $9 million for Victorian Energy Upgrade incentives targeted at small businesses;
  • $21 million for renewable energy systems, storage and energy efficiency improvements in community buildings.

These record-breaking investments come together with a massive $5.3 billion investment in public housing that will meet a 7-star energy efficiency standard and a 5-star Green Star standard. Many of these initiatives align with our long-term advocacy efforts and our industry allies.

Climate Change Bill 2020

As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Australia is committed to decarbonisation by mid-century. Australia does not, however, have any overarching legislation that will guide the economy on a trajectory to net zero carbon emissions. That is why Zali Steggall MP, the independent member for Warringah, introduced the Climate Change Bill 2020 (the Bill) which aims to establish:

  • an economy-wide net-zero target by 2050
  • economy-wide emissions budgets and national plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • an Independent Climate Change Commission to oversee the transition
  • a National Climate Risk Assessment and plans for adapting to changing climate.
  • transparent monitoring, reporting on progress, and plans.

We are strongly supportive of the objectives of the Bill and the need for a bipartisan approach to tackling the issue of climate change. The bill was recently referred to a Parliamentary Inquiry for further investigation. We made this submission to the ongoing Inquiry and will continue to advocate for legislation that will curb Australia’s emissions in line with our international commitments.

Read our submission

Update on Environmental Reforms

The Independent Review into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) has completed its analysis and handed down its final report, which will be made public no later than February 2021. The Commonwealth Government is currently considering the recommendations and is expected to respond when the matter is considered by Parliament.  

In parallel to this process, the Government is seeking to pass legislation that would streamline the approvals process by devolving environmental decision-making powers to State and Territory Governments. While in principle this may be beneficial in reducing red tape, it should be accompanied by strong environmental standards and safeguards that would protect and enhance Australia’s natural heritage.

We are also employing the market mechanisms inherent to Green Star to protect our biodiversity. This is achieved by including environmental provisions in the ‘minimum expectations’ necessary for obtaining a Green Star rating. Any project that requires areas listed as ‘Matters of National Significance’ under the EPBC Act to be cleared cannot be rated under Green Star regardless of whether it is approved.

Read the legistlation

Insights into Green Star for Government

GBCA is holding an online session that will be providing a unique platform to discuss strategies to apply Green Star to government projects.

In this exclusive session you will have the opportunity to hear government leaders share their expertise and learnings on how they have embedded the Green Star rating tools in their projects.

Our guest speakers will discuss:

  • business case: how does Green Star align with the vision and goals of a project and how can policy commitments be achieved through certification?  
  • concept design: why is it essential to include Green Star upfront? 
  • procurement: how are Green Star requirements built in the procurement processes and contracting? 
  • implementation: what is the best Green Star strategy for the delivery of your project? What does collaboration look like with GBCA?  
  • reporting: how can we close the loop on projects with measurable outcomes and data? What is the value of Green Star for the project more broadly?  

This event is FREE for all government employees – please register your interest to attend using the following link.

Register here