Posted in energy efficiency

Implement mandatory sustainability performance in all buildings and products

Summary: have mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards (for buildings and products) for all buildings, starting with social housing then private rentals. Landlords have to pay for the upgrades but are not allowed to increase the rent. If landlords have insufficient funds to pay for upgrades without increasing the rent, get the customer’s energy retailer and/or the government to provide the funding.

The petition is here:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/NSW_Office_of_Environment_Heritage_Australian_Department_of_E_H_Implement_mandatory_sustainability_performance_disclosur/?preview=live

Note that I am currently not able to update the petition as of 18/12/2016, so until I create another petition or update it, the below information may be taken to be the latest information.

There is a huge potential for better sustainability performance in all buildings. Areas of improvement include energy, water, materials/waste, corporate responsibility, transport, and indoor environmental quality. In Australia there is mandatory performance disclosure for commercial buildings.The scheme has been very successful in improving financial, environmental and social performance of commercial buildings. Hence, this petition calls on the federal and state governments in Australia to keep the commercial building disclosure scheme. This petition also calls on these governments to extend the scheme to all other sectors of the built environment.

However, an option that would be better for all residents, particularly financially disadvantaged ones, is to have mandatory sustainability performance standards for all buildings rather than disclosure, starting most importantly for buildings that have residents who are financially disadvantaged. In roughly increasing order of likelihood of tenants who are financially disadvantaged, building types are social housing, boarding houses, shared houses, tenant occupied buildings and owner occupied buildings. Voluntary disclosure may result in confusion with prospective tenants and buyers and has not been proven to be very effective. Disclosure at the point of signing a contract is not as useful as disclosure at the point of sale or advertisement.

The 2010 residential tenancies Act (which had the amendment for minimum water efficiency standards in water) applies to people in both social housing and private tenancies. This is what we’d need to change for such people. It is particularly important to do so, because people living in social housing (and also in shared housing with residents in individual rooms with a key to the room paying rent to a landlord who has unconditional access to the property, which is not covered under private tenancies or social housing) are usually on a low income and thus struggle to pay bills. Homes with lower energy and water performance will require more artificial heating and cooling for thermal comfort, thus resulting in higher bills.

Providing tax incentives in the form of tax write-offs for environmental upgrades will also help to overcome the barrier between landlord and tenant. In order to avoid the situation where costs increase for tenants in the form of rent hikes to pay off environmental upgrades, if the costs of the upgrade are not able to be recuperated by keeping the rent the same, the customer’s energy retailer and/or the government can pay for the balance. Energy companies already allocate funds to people experiencing financial difficulty.

Have technology standards meeting minimum energy efficiency requirements, such as improving Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS).

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