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International comparison of building energy performance standards

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... Whilst concerns over energy security, rising energy prices and environmental impacts have started to drive policy change within the Australian context [9], it has been asserted that the regulatory standards for energy efficiency in homes in Australia fall well below the level of those in various countries with similar climatic conditions to the climate zones of Australia [10]. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to critically review the mandatory pathways to energy efficiency for mid-rise residential buildings in Australia, with a focus on the NSW context, thus highlighting the limitations of those regulations. ...
... In 2005, when debate was occurring regarding proposals to increase the minimum NatHERS requirements from a 4* to a 5* rating, an international comparison study was undertaken [10]. The study identified that, even after the proposed stringency increase, Australian houses would consume significantly more energy than those built to meet the regulations in comparable climatic locations. ...
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Within Australia, increasingly more people are choosing to live in cities. Due to a need for urban densification and more affordable housing, for the first time, development approvals for multi-residential developments have overtaken those for individual houses. The growing sector of mid-rise residential buildings in Australian cities has the potential to contribute significantly to improving the energy efficiency of the building stock. However, there is limited empirical research on this sector within the Australian context. The mandatory framework for the energy efficiency of mid-rise residential developments in Australia, with a focus on New South Wales with its distinct regulatory requirements, is critically reviewed and synthesised with the literature. The review provides an understanding of the regulatory context under which mid-rise residential developments are undertaken. The limitations of the current energy efficiency framework are highlighted. This study provides an understanding of the status quo in energy efficiency regulations for mid-rise residential buildings in Australia and demonstrates that there is both scope and an imperative for regulatory minima to be enhanced.
... A national approach to building energy regulation was formalized in the National Construction Code at the beginning of the 21st Century, although regional standards had been introduced by a few jurisdictions a decade earlier. At various points in time the Australian housing energy regulations have been increased in standard and broadened in scope, although are still falling behind both World's best practice as a minimum performance target, and well-short of what is needed to transition to a more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable built environment (Horne et al., 2005;Moore et al., 2014;Berry and Marker, 2015;Martek et al., 2019a;Doyon and Moore, 2020). ...
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Multiple market failures have historically delivered housing that is environmentally and economically sub-optimal. Minimum energy standards are a popular policy tool for lowering energy use and anthropogenic carbon emissions in the built environment, but evidence shows they fail to drive performance beyond that minimum. Mandating the disclosure of energy performance on sale or lease of property has been introduced in some jurisdictions to transform the building stock and encourage energy and carbon saving improvements. These policy instruments address different market failures and have the potential to act as complementary regulation, but to date there has been little evidence that the combination may deliver greater benefits than each individual policy measure. The analysis of 342,674 housing energy assessments in Australia from May 2016-June 2021 highlights the impact of complementary vs. single policy instruments. We find that the building regulatory process alone delivers certainty regarding minimum performance, but when matched with disclosure regulation, the market is pulled slightly toward higher performance outcomes than for where building regulations alone are used. While only a small improvement in performance, the data supports the power of complementary regulation for long-life housing assets, similar to the benefits found for shorter-life assets such as household appliances; in essence creating both a carrot and a stick for consumers and the wider market. The data from Australia presented in this paper suggests that the use of complementary regulation may deliver improved environmental and economic outcomes and could help jurisdictions governing a transition to more sustainable housing as part of the wider transition to sustainable cities.
... The economic benefits of Canary Islands date palms in an Australian setting were calculated using the U.S. National Tree Benefit Calculator (NTBC) [66] with the comparison of Australian climate zones [67] with US climate zones based on Horne, et al. [68]. To avoid fluctuating exchange rates from influencing the discussion of absolute monetary cost comparisons, all values were calculated relative to the most common street tree, the London plane tree (Platanus × acerifolia). ...
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Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis) have been planted as a landscaping feature plant throughout warm, temperate, and subtropical climates. The physical amenity provisioning of this species (shade effects, microclimate amelioration, water usage, etc.) has so far not been systematically assessed. This paper reports on temperature and humidity measurements in both a suburban and a rural location in SE Australia. The study demonstrates the effects of the palm canopy as regulator of humidity and provider of shade and, thus, amenity values in urban landscape settings. Drawing on published energy savings and growth requirements of the plant, the paper argues that Canary Island date palms are landscaping plants suitable to ameliorate the microclimate in urban neighborhoods with varied socio-economic conditions.
... The minimum star rating assigned in 2003 was 5stars. On 1 May 2009 the Council of Australian Governments agreed to move to a 6star rating beginning 1 May 2011, notwithstanding findings established and accepted for some time (Horne et al, 2005) that Australia's 5-star standard was of the order of 2 to 2.5 stars below comparable average international levels of performance of the residential building shell. ...
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In the residential sector there is growing interest in the concept of carbon neutral and net zero energy housing within the context of emerging climate change mitigation and energy security strategies. A hybrid building represents a new class of dwelling capable of achieving net zero energy, carbon neutral or zero carbon status. It is defined here as a residential building which has the capacity to supply, in total, the annual operating energy requirements of its occupants by providing locally generated energy to the grid at times of generating energy surplus to its occupants' immediate demands and receiving energy back from the grid when the dwelling is unable to generate sufficient energy for autonomous operation. Operating energy includes energy for heating, cooling, lighting and domestic appliances (built-in and plug-in). Local energy is supplied by a number of distributed generation technologies, both low emission and zero emission. Innovation in building and energy systems is represented across a three-horizon spectrum ranging from incremental to transformational. This article reports on the carbon footprints of alternative configurations of a hybrid building, where variations in performance are explored across different types of residential structure (detached, medium density, high-rise), different energy ratings of the shell, number and mix of domestic appliances in use, and type of distributed or local energy generation technology employed. Hybrid building pathways to zero carbon housing are identified, delivering average savings of approximately 11 tonnes CO 2-e per year per dwelling compared to new detached project homes designed to current 5 star energy standards. 1
... Even though the issue of energy efficiency and reduction of GHG emissions across the built environment have dominated policy debates in Australia for some time, most of these efforts focused on limited performance targets and setting incremental steps toward better energy efficiency [31]. Current energy efficiency measures in the built environment have been unable to deliver the level of energy efficiency that Australia requires for a transition to a low-carbon future and are generally subpar when compared with other developed nations [20,31,40]. To combat this lack of progress, there is the need for a paradigm shift from what is deemed politically achievable to what the climate science demands to ensure the built environment achieves sustainability outcomes [31]. ...
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Net zero energy building standards have been gaining prominence lately as the next performance target for buildings. However, despite the demonstrated benefits of such building performance across triple bottom-line concepts, Australia is yet to formulate a policy toward adopting a net zero energy building standard. Evidence from various scholars suggests that Australia cannot delay the implementation of deep improvements in energy efficiency in the built environment any longer, as issues of energy security, affordability and increasing greenhouse gas emissions have become critical. This chapter reviews recent advances in the high-performance building standards with emphasis on global developments of net zero energy standards and discusses how Australia is positioned in relation to this standard and the ways Australia might move forward to this standard.
... In the absence of government regulations that would require higher levels of environmental performance,e.g., integrated urban water systems [7], building energy performance that meets international best practice [8], distributed renewable energy generation [9] and local waste utilization via ecoindustrial clusters [10], opportunities are being lost in current greenfield developments to wind back the unsustainable ecological footprints of Australia's cities. Melbourne's footprint is 6.4 ha/person, approximately three times the global average [11]. ...
... The 2010 building energy code changes also included minimum performance requirements for water heating and fixed indoor lighting. Yet, while Australia's per capita emissions are amongst the highest in the world [14], its building energy standards are among the lowest in the developed world [15]. And although some policy discussions during 2010-2012 have referred to the potential for increased building energy code stringency [16,17], the policy debate has been retarded by questions about the effectiveness of previous building energy regulatory changes and concerns about the marginal economics of the 2010 reforms [18][19][20]. ...
Article
Building energy code change in Australia, and many other developed nations, is subject to standardised economic tests, with a net present value calculation at the heart of the economic analysis. Although many nations have introduced minimum energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings, increases in stringency have been hindered by limitations to the range of private and societal impacts typically incorporated in regulatory impact assessments. Given the policy move towards net zero energy homes, a more comprehensive set of inputs and robust assumptions are needed to support further regulatory change. Yet the literature provides substantial evidence of many private and societal costs and benefits not commonly incorporated into the economic assessments that underpin regulatory change. Drawing on a case study of Australian and UK residential regulatory change assessments, this paper highlights limitations to the range of inputs and assumptions currently incorporated within the economic arguments applied during residential energy code change processes, and presents a more comprehensive economic argument that could support further stringency improvements.
... In the absence of government regulations requiring higher levels of environmental performance (e.g. integrated urban water systems, Diaper et al. 2008; building energy performance that meets international best practice, Horne et al. 2005; distributed renewable energy generation, Jones 2008; local waste utilisation via eco-industrial clusters, Batten et al. 2008), opportunities to wind back the unsustainable ecological footprints of Australia's cities are being lost in current greenfield developments. Melbourne's footprint is 6.4 hectares per person, approximately three times the global average (Turner & Foran 2008). ...
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Project premise Australian cities are forecast to grow substantially over the next half-century. The vision that they can 'get better as they get bigger' (Committee for Melbourne 2010) will ultimately depend upon how and where this growth is directed. The planning logic applied to urban development in Australia over much of the past 60 years was based on low-density 'garden city' greenfield expansion; a regime that was highly car-dependent and perpetuated the industrial era's restrictive zoning of land uses. It was a period when practitioners and populations alike foresaw little in the way of resource or environmental constraints upon urban development. A future logic for urban development is required: one that can significantly reduce our ecological footprints as well as enhance city productivity, competitiveness and social inclusion, thus enabling Australian cities to get better as they get bigger (see Figure 1). Exploring pathways for such a transformation is the focus of this AHURI Investigative Panel project. The research recognises that future metropolitan growth and investment will need to be redirected inwards rather than outwards, into precincts and regions of the middle suburban greyfields. Greyfield residential precincts are defined here as under-utilised property assets located in the middle suburbs of large Australian cities, where residential building stock is failing (physically, technologically and environmentally) and energy, water and communications infrastructure is in need of regeneration. Greyfields are usually occupied and privately owned sites typical of urban development undertaken from the 1950s to the 1970s (Newton 2010). The project investigates the processes required for an effective development model capable of delivering more affordable and sustainable medium-density housing through the regeneration of greyfield precincts in Australia's capital cities, with a particular focus on Melbourne. It targets the middle suburbs as the key areas of investigation for new urban policy (Major Cities Unit 2010). While the middle suburbs show evidence of prior patterns of densification, including the walk-up flats and post-strata-title townhouse development of the 1960s and the 1970s, the prevailing housing typology remains a detached dwelling on a single lot. This represents a nominal density of eight to 15 dwellings per hectare, and is widely accepted as unsustainable. Formal strategies for urban intensification have involved the redevelopment of large land assemblages in activity centres and more recently, the examination of transport corridors (Adams et al. 2009). However, as much as 35 per cent of infill redevelopment in middle suburbs takes place informally (Goodman et al. 2010) so it is surprising that there has been little detailed examination of this small-scale redevelopment activity, or the possible contribution it could offer intensification efforts. Regeneration of residential greyfield precincts is not proposed in opposition to existing state government policies, which appropriately aim to increase population density around transport corridors and activity centres. However, these strategic areas have been very slow in generating new housing, with fragmented infill continuing to be the major provider of new housing in the middle suburbs. Because this informal infill generally falls outside of the government policy-focused areas, it has been neglected as an issue for investigation. This project aims to bridge this research gap by considering how infill redevelopment could be undertaken more effectively through a precinct approach - this could contribute to a range of strategic city planning objectives within an emerging national urban policy (Department of Infrastructure and Transport 2010). As distinct from its greenfield and brownfield counterparts (Newton 2010; see Figure 2), greyfield redevelopment lacks an established model to drive the process, resulting in fragmented and sub-optimal development. This project aims to identify the innovative policy directions and associated organisational and technical processes needed for an effective development model in greyfield residential precincts. Sustainable urban development (that addresses environmental, social, economic and governance dimensions as envisaged here) will not be achieved without fundamental transformation of the greyfields in the middle suburbs. Melbourne is the focus of this study, but the findings are applicable to other major Australian cities. The greyfield precincts proposition This research focuses on the informal infill that clusters around two to seven dwellings per development, undertaken mostly by small developers (Phan et al. 2008). The project explores how this kind of informal development could be strategically managed. By exploring a range of issues - including how parcels of land could be assembled for higher-density redevelopment at the scale of precinct and how innovative design and construction methods could make these developments more socially and environmentally sustainable - this research aims to develop strategic management models for infill developments. For the purposes of the investigation, a precinct has been assumed to consist of 10 allotments. However, a larger or smaller number may be more viable. It is proposed that a precinct of 10 suburban lots could be sufficient for up to 40 dwellings. It is highly unlikely that housing provision in areas of greyfield regeneration will be provided by high-rise high-density apartment typologies. While such typologies are mandated for activity centres and transport corridors, in a greyfield suburban setting they are unprofitable and undesirable. However, a combination of dwelling types may be feasible. These would include four storey buildings - prefabricated or timber-framed, and delivered by the domestic residential sector - along with a variety of other typologies, to create a mix of detached, semi-detached, row and apartment housing. The precinct level design model also provides for high quality shared spaces, concentrated car parking solutions and a finer grain to pedestrian circulation and interconnection paths beyond the line of the street. It also offers opportunities for non-traditional suburban forms - offices, shop frontages, studio spaces - and ancillary community services. Such diversity could assist in accommodating the rental market displaced from inner city and activity centres (Wood et al. 2008) and the expected baby-boomer 'relocation within region' (Olsberg & Winters 2005). Three types of precinct were considered, as follows (see Figure 3). Consolidated precinct This precinct type consists of a large parcel of assembled land enabling high-density built outcomes suitable to large-scale development. Development sites of this type can produce high yield and construction efficiencies, and have the potential to achieve high quality design input and provide precinct based infrastructure. Dispersed precinct This type consists of small suburban parcels dispersed over a 400 square metres area. Based on current infill development patterns, this model is based on a single developer working over a number of non-contiguous sites.
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Australian household energy consumption contributes about 13 % to the total national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and thus, to climate change. At the same time, climate change will in turn impact the total energy consumption and GHG emissions from the residential sector. This study investigated the potential impact of climate change on the total energy consumption and related GHG emissions of housing in Brisbane, Australia (a heating and cooling balanced climate region) and identified potential pathways for existing and new residential buildings to adapt to climate change by simulations in terms of the resilience to maintain the level same as or less than the current level of total energy consumption and GHG emissions.
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Energy use in housing has a significant negative impact on the environment. The South Australian Government responded to concern for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by creating a model green village of near zero carbon homes in a near zero carbon impact estate. The creation of the Lochiel Park Green Village challenged actors from industry and government to set objectives, performance targets and regulatory guidelines outside existing institutional and professional norms. Evidence collected through a series of interviews has found that industry has responded to their involvement in the development by shifting away from some dominant technologies, practices and beliefs, and embracing new tools, construction practices and technologies, and policy makers have used the experience to consider new standards of building performance. Using a multi-level socio-technical framework this paper demonstrates how structural change at the regime level has come from the experience of actors at the niche level. The creation of the Lochiel Park Green Village has allowed many organisations to gain a more detailed and practical understanding of sustainable housing, and has given organisations the confidence to change industry practices, government policies, and regulatory standards.
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