Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 March 2010) . . Page.. 1303 ..
new houses built in Molonglo is achievable. It is not at cutting edge, because there are quite a few seven-star houses in Canberra already, but it would assist the move towards carbon neutrality. The Greens would ideally like to see the incremental increase of EER for residential housing so that in Molonglo by, say, 2016 all residential buildings are carbon neutral. We believe this is possible because, for instance, in the United Kingdom, all new houses will have to be zero emissions on heating and cooling by 2016. If you can do it in the UK with a much worse climate than us, then we should be able to do it here.
But regardless of what date we are looking at, the Greens believe that any new greenfield development should be planned and built to minimise carbon emissions. Houses built with sustainable design principles are now starting to approach carbon neutrality. This can only be achieved, however, with both suburb and precinct-level planning as well as good design features within each property.
At the suburb level, a truly sustainable development needs to include: mandatory solar passivity—that is, including solar orientation at suburb level and at block level; use of thermal mass and orientation to maximise of use of ventilation; and microclimate management—that is, allowing space to be planned between and around residences to ensure vegetation which cannot only be used for privacy and amenity, but which can be used to insulate buildings and lower outdoor air temperatures in the summer.
Mr Seselja’s public response to our proposals to date to develop Molonglo sustainably has been very disappointing, and I am assuming that the Liberal Party will repeat these spurious arguments shortly. I would, in advance, like to address some of the points he has made. One of the points he has made is that building sustainably will make housing too expensive and thus unaffordable.
Mr Seselja—and possibly the Liberal Party—presumably does not realise that Canberra already has quite a number of seven-star houses. If these are built with good passive solar principles so they have northern aspect, good insulation and good thermal mass, then the additional cost is very low. If ACTPLA and the LDA ensure that block layout is such that all blocks have a northern aspect, then the additional cost of seven star will be minimal.
Mr Seselja has said that not all blocks can be north facing. But we must remember that “north facing” does not actually mean that the north has to be the face on the road side. What it means is the main living areas need to be able to face north. Certainly, we do not believe that the garage should be taking up space on the valuable north face. With good design, almost all blocks should be able to have a useable north face. This is important because, while it may be difficult, it is possible to add insulation and thermal mass to a house afterwards, but it is not, of course, possible to change the house orientation. We recognise that there will be specific issues with multi-unit developments, and so we would propose an average of, say, a seven-star rating for multi-units with a minimum of six stars.
There has been quite a debate about the payback period for new houses built to seven stars. As I said, the additional costs of building will be minimal. They are cheaper in the long run for people and for the planet. Alison Carmichael, who is the CEO of the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors, researched this using the AccuRate