By Megan Macpherson I IMAGEination.tv
Climate change is a hot issue, with home owners seeking to make alterations to reduce their energy bills and make their home more comfortable to live in, while helping the environment.
According to the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, “the energy used by Australian buildings accounts for approximately 20 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, split fairly evenly between homes and commercial buildings.”
A revision of the National Construction Code (NCC) by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) was requested by COAG, in order to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases. This requires a 6 star energy rating or equivalent for new residential buildings.
So now buildings need to be constructed to meet a required level of thermal performance, with regards to the building fabric, external glazing and shading, sealing, ventilation, insulation, heating and cooling systems within the home.
There is no doubt that constructing the home with passive heating and cooling will reduce greenhouse gases, but there is some speculation that the higher star rating does not mean higher financial saving in direct correlation.
A report by the Centre for International Economics commissioned by the Master Builders’ Association Australia, entitled Energy-efficiency: building code star-ratings states that “Energy efficiency is not economic efficiency.” It goes on to conclude that “The benefits of increasing the star rating beyond about 5 starts are minimal… Forcing home owners to build houses with higher star ratings imposes higher costs (in terms of building resources) that it saves in terms of the value of energy resources.”
With this kind of information, it seems there is equilibrium between reducing greenhouse gases and reducing costs which sits at about 5 stars. In dollar terms the financial cost can be measured now, but Australia will have to wait to measure the overall impact on climate change – by then will it be too late?