WA Advocates for Increased Energy Standards
WA President, Kukame McPierzie recently wrote to the Hon. Roger Cook MLA on behalf of the WA Committee to advocate for the lifting of the Energy Performance Standards for new homes in the National Construction Code 2022.
The letter was sent ahead of Minister Cook’s participation in the August meeting of State Building Ministers and joins similar messages from our colleagues at the AIA and other affiliate organisations. We are thrilled to read that our collective voices have been heard!
I am writing to you in my capacity as President of the WA Branch of the Association of Consulting Architects (ACA). We provide approximately 90 practices and 600 staff with support and advocacy regarding the business of architecture.
Architecture is the most closely regulated profession in the built environment sector and sustainability reform (including energy efficiency) was adopted by the profession in the 2021 National Standard of Competency for Architects. Architects are actively demonstrating their commitment to West Australian communities by being at the forefront of the transition towards a net-zero economy. We support both the State Government’s commitment to a 2030 reduction target of 80 per cent below 2020 levels and the adoption of the proposed new energy performance requirements for residential buildings in the National Construction Code 2022 in WA.
Architects play a central role in the built environment sector
At the 2016 Census, there were 1454 West Australian architects participating in Australia’s $100 billion built environment sector. Current research by industry analysts IBISWorld estimates that architectural services revenue will grow by an average 0.5% per annum to 2022–23, to reach $6.0 billion, and suggests that the real value of architecture to the economy may be around 15% greater once benefits from innovation, research, education, cultural products and tourism are considered. [i] Our members engage with a wide cross-section of the construction industry, have a diverse client base, large consultant teams, local and state government approvals processes, and contractors of varying scales across the state. The ACA is a small but highly connected industry leader and is well qualified to advocate for the benefits of innovation and improved standards.
It has been over a decade since the minimum energy efficiency requirements for new homes were meaningfully increased in the National Construction Code, and moreover, these requirements were only adopted in Western Australia in 2019. Since then, Australia’s performance has fallen behind comparable countries, where the energy efficiency of new buildings is typically up to 40% better. The International Energy Agency has highlighted that energy efficiency upgrades are job intensive and strongly support economic stimulus goals, while the Business Council maintains that a major drive to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and industry could deliver over 120,000 job-years of employment nationally[i]. The adoption of the proposed new energy performance requirements for residential buildings in the National Construction Code 2022 will encourage skills and employment growth in WA’s built environment sector.
Architecture businesses are committed to making homes more energy efficient
Architecture businesses are committed to making homes more energy efficient to benefit Western Australian households and to improve energy equity for domestic users. Nine out of ten architects surveyed by the Australian Institute of Architects in 2022 support the adoption of a stronger 2030 emissions reduction target, and 90% also agreed that more needs to be done to address Australia’s housing affordability crisis. These figures demonstrate that we are united in our pursuit of sustainability and affordability for households.
Our members and the broader architectural profession support the adoption of the improved energy efficiency standards to avoid the unintended consequences of worsening affordability and energy inequity. ClimateWorks estimates that delaying changes to the NCC could lock in $2 billion in wasted energy bills for Australian households between now and 2030; furthermore, the cost to households and governments to retrofit these homes would be even greater.[ii] For Western Australia, with its unique climate considerations, poorly designed buildings are a major contributor to energy loads and have a significant impact on the energy economy and the reliability of the energy grid. Improving residential energy efficiency and performance standards will lead to significant and ongoing energy bill savings for households, better health outcomes, better resilience to weather extremes, cuts to our emissions and less need to invest in expensive generation and network augmentation.
Lifting energy performance standards for new homes will:
- Cut energy bills. ABCB states that households will be up to $576 a year better off compared to business as usual[i]. Savings on energy bills will be larger than the home loan cost of upfront improvements.[ii]
- Cut emissions by up to 15 million tonnes to 2030, and 78 million tonnes to 2050 nationally.[iii]
- Make homes healthier and more resilient to weather extremes. There were 36,000 deaths in Australia associated with the heat between 2006 and 2017 [iv] with heat waves predicted to worsen. Houses that are too cold contribute to 6% of deaths in Australia – double the rate of Sweden[v].
- Make energy more affordable for all by managing energy demand and reducing the cost of grid upgrades by up to $12.6 billion to 2050[vi]. Efficiency is a key measure to reduce the impact of volatile wholesale prices on households.
- Reduce poverty and inequality as people living in all new social housing and private rental will benefit from cheaper energy bills and better health outcomes.
- Create jobs. Improving energy efficiency standards will lead to more employment opportunities in the built environment industry.
All West Australians should have the opportunity to live in a house that is efficient, comfortable and affordable. Now is the time to lift energy performance standards for all new homes. We give our support to your adoption of the proposed new energy performance requirements for residential buildings in the National Construction Code 2022, with a 12-month transition period to ensure time for industry training and education. We offer our unique expertise as architects to assist the State Government with this critical transition.
STATE PRESIDENT WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Association of Consulting Architects (ACA)
[i] Consultation Regulation Impact Statement. https://consultation.abcb.gov.au/engagement/consultation-ris-proposed-ncc-2022-residential/ [ii] Renew 2021. Households Better Off: lowering energy bills with the 2022 National Construction Code.
2022-national-construction-code/[iii] Climateworks Australia and ASBEC 2019, Built to Perform: An Industry-led Pathway to a Zero Carbon Ready Building Code. [iv] Longden, Thomas 2019. “The impact of temperature on mortality across different climate zones.” Climate
Change 2019; 157: 221-242[v] Gasparini, Antonio et al 2015. “Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a
multicountry observational study.” Lancet 2015; 386:639-75[vi] The Business Council of Australia, Building a stronger and cleaner post-pandemic Australia