Industry and consumers push for better buildings

Ahead of the meeting of state and territory building ministers this week, industry and consumer groups have urged government to focus on delivering better productivity and quality in Australian buildings.

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), supported by 20 member organisations, has appealed to Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews to maintain focus on building confidence and energy efficiency.

“Now more than ever Australians are focused on the safety and quality of their built environment,” says the letter sent to Minister Andrews.

“It is important that commonwealth, state and territory governments recommit to working together and urgently implement the foundation, delivery, and post construction reforms recommended in the Building Confidence report and the energy efficiency work as part of the National Construction Code.

“Now is not the time to ‘go slow’ on these important reforms.”

A coalition of more than 20 community, consumer and environment groups, including Renew, the Australian Council of Social Service and Anglicare Australia, have echoed these sentiments in a joint statement.

“There has never been a better time to raise the energy standards of new Australian homes,” the statement says.

“All Australians should be able to live in a safe and healthy home that is low cost to run. But too many homes are being built that leave people paying too high energy bills and exposed to heatwaves and winter cold. They do not meet community expectations.

“We strongly support the commitment of Australian state, territory and Commonwealth governments to set a minimum 7-star NatHERS rating for new homes and introduce renewable energy requirements when the National Construction Code (NCC) is updated in 2022.”

The groups are also advocating for better accessibility outcomes in homes.

The statements come after Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn advised against raising energy efficiency requirements in NCC 2022.

“It shocks me, however, that there is still serious consideration by some Building Ministers to include new requirements in the 2022 NCC on mandatory universal access and increased energy efficiency requirements on new homes despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that it will have a significant cost impact,” wrote Wawn in a recent industry update.

“Master Builders strongly believes that the ABCB/BMF should prioritise core structural reforms that industry is seeking and will provide client confidence as opposed to prioritising work around interest group priorities (e.g., accessibility and energy).

“It is not the time to unnecessarily add costs to the industry when we are in the box seat to drive the economic rebound.”

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