Page 2662 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 6 June 2012

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given the Assembly’s commitment to 40 per cent greenhouse gas reduction, some action was needed on new construction. It would also be fair to say that there was no consensus as to the importance of action with respect to new building compared to any other action or the details of how best to do it from a new building point of view.

On that note, I am not saying for one moment that this is in any way going to be the only thing, or possibly even the most important thing, that the ACT needs to do to meet its greenhouse gas target. What I do contend, however, is that it is an essential part of the packet of tools that we will need to have if we are going to address our greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective matter. I think that, whatever the differences may be around this Assembly, we are all united in feeling that cost efficiency is a desirable attribute for our greenhouse gas reduction target.

After my consultation I am very confident that the aim of the legislation is a sound one and that it is needed if we are going to meet our target. Another way of making it clearer is that, of course, the ACT’s target is not a per capita or a per house target; it is a target for the whole of the ACT. That means that if there are more greenhouse gas emissions from new development, it will make the task for the rest of the ACT harder.

This bill basically, in a one-line sentence, says that new development should be consistent with our 40 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target. One way of doing this, of course, is by ensuring that new buildings are carbon neutral. Fortunately, we actually know that this is possible. We know there are a lot of houses in Canberra that are presently carbon neutral. They are houses which are energy efficient and they buy green power or they generate their own solar electricity to meet their residual energy needs. These are carbon neutral houses currently in Canberra.

Whether it is a house, an office, a shop or whatever, the way for a building to become carbon neutral is fairly clear and straightforward. First off, you build it as efficiently as possible and you use passive solar design if possible. We have been going down this route, obviously, in terms of increasing energy efficiency ratings for houses and other buildings. Secondly, there should be on-site generation of energy from renewable sources. Again the ACT has done a lot in this regard. There are a lot of households—mine included—which have on-site PV generation. Thirdly, you have efficient appliances and light fittings. Fortunately there has been a commonwealth-wide minimum energy performance standards program which has led to a considerable improvement in the energy efficiency of buildings. Members may be aware that the per capita electricity consumption in the ACT has slightly declined in recent years. While it is not totally clear why that is so, having talked to some of the people who have been doing the measurements it seems that one of the most likely reasons is the increased energy efficiency of new appliances and in particular a reduction in stand-by power.

Lastly, having got through all of that, there is purchasing green power for any residual power needs. Once you have done those first three things—you have built efficiently, you have generated on-site if you happen to have a suitable site where you can do it and your appliances and light fittings are all energy efficient—your residual power needs are not going to be very great. In fact for some houses in Canberra the residual power needs are zero.

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