New funding of $64.2 million to be included in the upcoming Federal Budget is the first step towards improving energy efficiency and realising the full potential of the nation’s built environment to reduce emissions, the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has said.
The Institute welcomed the investment in improving energy productivity in both residential and commercial buildings.
AIA CEO Julia Cambage said there was scope for even greater stimulus that would pay dividends not only in terms of lower energy costs for consumer but through enhanced public amenity, more jobs and better climate outcomes.
“In the residential space alone we know there is an enormous gap between the average energy efficiency of new (6.1 stars) versus existing homes (1.7 stars),” Ms Cambage said.
“It is encouraging to see the Federal Government responding to our many years of advocacy for measures to address this disparity and seize the opportunity the built environment offers.”
“Extensive research by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks has shown that the built environment can deliver more than a quarter of the emissions reductions needed to meet our Paris Agreement target.”
Ms Cambage said the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) are two critical vehicles the government has at its disposal to drive large-scale change and that the AIA welcomes the commitment this week to guarantee ARENA’s ongoing funding.
She noted that the CEFC has been a strong supporter of property sector projects that incorporate renewable energy technology and there is an opportunity to expand their investment mandate to help deploy low emissions housing innovations, like the Nightingale affordable housing model, at scale.
“Today’s announcement should mark the start of a journey towards the carbon-neutral future we need to achieve, with so many more initiatives ready to be rolled out if government support is forthcoming as outlined in our economic stimulus submission.”
The Australian Government’s new energy productivity measures include dedicated programs to help community organisations lower their energy bills and the hotel sector to achieve an energy uplift.
As part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Institute has put forward additional suggestions for specific upgrade and retrofit support including:
- A program focusing on upgrading the environmental performance energy efficiency in public, aboriginal and community housing;
- Upgrading government buildings, which account for about 30 per cent of the commercial building space in Australia, including schools, offices and public buildings, and are involved in energy-intensive sectors such as water supply and treatment; and
- Retrofitting schools to make them more energy-efficient especially while they are being under-utilised during the pandemic, upgrading their accessibility and replacing low quality and out of date facilities with new and efficient buildings.