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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3039 ..

Thank you, Mr Speaker. In the 1990s, the ACT established an energy efficiency rating scheme for residential buildings. The ACT was the first jurisdiction in the world to introduce an energy efficiency mandatory disclosure scheme for residential buildings when they are sold. Under the current arrangements, the Civil Law (Sale of Residential Property) Act 2003 requires an energy efficiency rating, or EER, to be declared when residential premises are advertised or offered for sale. Some types of dwellings, such as caravans and hostel-style accommodation, are excluded from the EER provisions. The EER must also form part of the contract of sale.

Disclosure of an EER is also required by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 when leasing or advertising a rental property, if an EER exists for the property. Mandatory EER provisions were introduced to address the lack of energy efficiency information for potential buyers. The ACT scheme is the only legislated scheme in Australia to require an independent energy efficiency rating.

Despite a number of national agreements, the earliest expected establishment of a comparable mandatory disclosure scheme in other jurisdictions is late 2011 or 2012. Other jurisdictions are looking to the ACT’s experience to inform their programs. Energy efficiency standards for new dwellings are mandated by the Building Code of Australia. The building code is applied as law in the ACT through the Building Act 2004.

The BCA allows various methods to assess the energy efficiency of a dwelling. However, the requirement under the Residential Sales Act to provide an EER statement means that most practitioners in the ACT use the software verification or “energy rating” method.

Since 1 May this year, the performance equivalent to six stars is now the minimum standard for detached houses and townhouses. Under the Building Code of Australia, detached houses and townhouses are class 1 buildings. A similar increase in stringency for sole occupancy units in apartments and other buildings has also been introduced. These are class 2 buildings. Energy efficiency assessments rate the theoretical thermal performance of a dwelling. In Canberra’s climate, this energy use often represents the majority of a household’s energy bill.

Mr Speaker, given the reliance on energy ratings to demonstrate compliance with the building code and when selling a property, it is increasingly important that consumers and the building industry have confidence in the rating system. Energy efficiency assessors are not currently licensed in the ACT. However, assessors preparing energy efficiency rating statements under the Residential Sales Act must be registered with ACTPLA. At present, there are currently over 200 registered energy assessors. Registered assessors are subject to a code of practice for preparing EER statements. These guidelines have been developed by ACTPLA under the Residential Sales Act. Qualifications for assessors rating new buildings are independently checked by building surveyors.

Since the introduction of the energy rating scheme, government intervention has been minimal and the approach to assessors predominantly educational. Mr Speaker, the current approach is no longer viable. Under current arrangements, there is limited

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