Page 505 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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easy to use, sets measurable minimum benchmarks and allows flexibility in how those benchmarks can be achieved.

We have also observed the development of tools that measure the sustainability of commercial office buildings, such as the Green Building Council of Australia’s GreenStar and the Australian building greenhouse rating, the ABGR scheme. This motion also asks the government to commit to implementing sustainability requirements for all government office developments and all new government tenancies, using a recognised assessment and accreditation tool.

During the election period, the government committed to increase the minimum mandatory energy rating for new single residential dwellings to five stars from four stars. This scheme is known as the ACT house energy rating scheme and only takes the building envelope into account. The building envelope affects the energy needed to heat and cool the house but not other energy uses such as lighting or refrigeration. Newer tools such as BASIX take a broader range of sustainability factors into account, including energy and greenhouse, water, materials, waste and transport. We are yet to see a real commitment to mandatory sustainability targets in the building approval process for single residential dwellings.

Last year the Planning and Land Authority created building and design guidelines that encourage energy and water conservation measures, the more suitable use of building materials and consideration of orientation and thermal mass. The residential sustainability report, which is a new requirement in a development application, determines the extent to which building design gives effect to sustainability principles. A sustainability rating, using the residential sustainability report, of greater than 100 is considered appropriate. However—and this is why our legislation is important—this is not mandatory and so is not enforced by ACTPLA.

To truly commit to a more sustainable built environment, the government must prescribe minimum standards for design and construction in the ACT. There should be clear sustainability standards and targets like those already established in other parts of Australia. We are lagging behind in the ACT. Victoria already has mandatory five-star efficiency standards for new houses and from July 2005 new houses will be five stars and must have either a rainwater tank or a solar hot water system, though of course nothing prevents people having both. These new regulations are expected to save 30 megatonnes of carbon dioxide over a 40-year period and that is equivalent to removing 10,000 cars from the road every year.

New South Wales reacted to the sustainability challenge in a more sophisticated way and has created a planning tool that enables new buildings to meet flexible sustainability standards in a number of ways. From now on, for example, all residential development applications must include a building sustainability index, BASIX, certificate. To get a BASIX certificate, applicants must be able to show that their proposed homes will be designed and built to use 40 per cent less mains supply water and produce 25 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the average house in that area. From 1 July 2006, this will rise to 40 per cent less than the average greenhouse gas emissions.

New homes must also meet BASIX requirements relating to the thermal performance of the building envelope. This requirement is aimed at ensuring that homes are not overly

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