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Media Release: Low carbon living programs achieve national Impact as CRC on target to reduce 10MT of CO2 by 2020

Posted 15 November 2016 - 9:00am

Annual Participants Forum:  15-16 November 2016, Australian National Maritime Museum

As Australia ratifies the Paris Agreement at COP22 in Marrakesh, back home the largest low carbon living organisation - the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) - is on track to meet its cumulative reduction target of 10 megatons of CO2 by 2020 with many of its 85 programs achieving national impact. Funding of just under $0.5 million for a new national zero energy homes (ZEH) project was also officially announced today by CEO Professor Deo Prasad at the opening of the CRCLCL’s annual Participants Forum.

“As the CRC reaches year four of seven, I am pleased to report that we are on track to meet our carbon reduction goals and the funding of this new national program to ensure zero energy homes are part of our low carbon cities future, will play a key role in achieving these goals,” he said.

“This project, which will be directed by Josh Byrne of Josh’s House fame will focus on developing an agreed position amongst stakeholders on the current barriers put forward by the housing industry to make ZEH part of our future,” he said.

“There will be extensive data collected to measure consumer interest in ZEH features comparative to more typical value add items in a home.  Ultimately once armed with data through coordinated end user engagement and communications, the program will engage and inform the development and construction industry of the market potential for ZEH so change can occur.”

Byrne, a Senior Research Fellow with Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute, has been on board with the CRCLCL from the beginning. His CRCLCL funded work has grown  from an initial two building project, where low carbon systems were set up and daily data produced that proved running a zero energy home is easily achieved, to a whole precinct and now a national impact program.

According to Byrne the project - which also includes building three ZEH display homes in partnership with land developers in new housing developments around Australia - will help make important steps in taking Australia in the right direction towards a zero carbon future by 2050. 

“Around 100,000 detached houses are built nationally each year. With the average operational greenhouse gas emissions in the order of seven tonnes per dwelling, if all new homes were built as ZEH, total emissions would be reduced by around   700,000 tonnes of CO2-e per year,” he said.

“As Australia works towards meeting its carbon reduction target of zero emissions by 2050, the housing sector is seen by many as low hanging fruit to help meet this goal. Internationally the European Union and the State of California in the United States are ahead, with regulations in place to adopt ZEH for all newly constructed homes by 2020. Meanwhile, Australia lags behind and we intend to change the situation via this program.”

The project will draw on the experiences of Josh’s House and other ZEH buildings plus related CRCLCL activities such as RP3029: Driving a National Conversation on Energy Efficient which is another project achieving national impact and making headway.  In this five-year project the intended outcomes are to reinforce and create positivity about sustainable housing.  This will be done through engagement and digital conversation whilst supporting how participants learn as they go along. 

Professor Prasad said that the National Conversation program is focussed on helping to change how people approach housing and educate them about the benefits of living with increased comfort and health, whilst reducing running costs.

“This national program is ambitious as it really is about shifting social patterns so that ultimately having sustainable housing will become the first ask of home owners, tenants and investors,” said Professor Prasad.

A third national impact program the CRCLCL has recently provided funding is a community co-design of low carbon precincts for urban regeneration in established suburbs.

From 2016-2018, this new collaborative regeneration initiative will prototype an innovative model for delivering sustainable, liveable medium-density housing in regenerating middle suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, also known as ‘greyfields’.

“As our population continues to urbanise as more people move into cities, there is still a stumbling block for governments to support providing more diverse, properly located, affordable and environmentally friendly accommodation and this needs to change, particularly as trends suggest 70% of all new dwellings will be built within existing urban areas, with the focus of this infill often high-profile, large scale renewal projects,” said Professor Prasad

The project will establish Greyfield Renewal Precincts as a viable option for liveability, sustainability and housing choice in metropolitan strategies, whilst working with local and state government to determine the criteria for precinct assessment, statutory regulation and concessions that can be earned through more effective use of land.

The project members will also liaise with land owners and land amalgamation professionals through a collaborative governance process to consolidate lots, and then, in conjunction with local government, assist landowners design and validate their regeneration precincts.  Finally it will establish a formal and certifiable process for implementing the process nationally.

“As the IEA said in its recent report, energy efficiency needs to be central in energy policies around the world, and to do this the mind-sets of consumers, governments, policy makers and importantly the building industry must change.  Sustainable buildings are better and can be cost effective whilst delivering healthy places to live and work.  The CRC’s many programs are making this change a reality,” concluded Professor Prasad.

For full program for the CRLCL’s Participant’s Forum click here.