The Green Building Council of Australia has revealed a draft of a Green Star for Homes standard, that will certify that houses are designed and built to the standard are healthful, environmentally sustainable and resistant to extreme weather happenings and climate change.

Mostly geared toward the volume building sector, the new tool will not stand in competition with the established Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) or act as an alternate option to NatHERS.

Instead it will feature a minimum NatHERS rating but will also call for features in areas beyond energy efficiency as well as additional energy efficiency requirements.

Unlike Green Star rating tools that pertain to commercial buildings, Green Star for Homes will not include four, five and six-star scores.

Houses will be certified or not certified.

To attain certification, residences must meet fifteen criteria under a trio of categories:

  • A health category will call upon homes to feature good light and air quality, limit moisture accumulation and be built of materials that comply with limits pertaining to volatile organic compounds.
  • A resilience category will call upon houses to be adaptable to shifting climate conditions and to oversee their own commitment to resilience by cutting down on their own water consumption and impacting urban heat.
  • A positive category will call upon houses to cut down on energy costs and emissions through the achievement of minimum NatHERS ratings of seven stars (seven and a half stars in colder climates), possess double glazed windows, be airtight, sufficiently ventilated, and completely electric, have sufficient appliances, be able to create enough renewable energy to be NetZero throughout the year and feature user guides on how to operate the residence in an efficient manner.

These categories, GBCA asserts, are valuable.

With 57 percent of Australia’s built environment emissions emanating from residences (40 percent of which are utilized for heating/cooling purposes – primarily heating throughout the winter), houses comprise a valuable portion of the building industry’s carbon footprint.

With 90 percent of our lives devoted to indoor living (and two-thirds of this time inside one’s domicile), healthful homes are essential to life.

And occurrences like the recent bushfires emphasise the need to enhance resilience guidelines in the design and building of new residences.

The standard is geared toward the volume building business and intends to influence the design of detached houses, units and townhomes (Class 1a buildings).

Directing the standard at this sector, GBCA asserts, will deliver positive effect at a wide scale.

The standard is open to dual varieties of certification.

The Green Star Designed certification allows volume home builders to attain certification for residences designed to adhere to the standard.

This will empower developers to sell the sustainability credentials of houses yet to be built, and to attain certification for all residences constructed under standardised designs.

Once houses are built and have been tested to adhere to the mandates of the standard, they then can be Green Star Certified and marketed as matching the standard.

Certification may be denied houses built on sensitive homesites.

This could include regions where the habitats of ecologically at-risk wildlife have been cleared to accommodate building development.

A number of developers have promised to pilot new draft standards by way of an early access program.

These include Stockland, Mirvac, Metricon and Rawson Homes, Chatham Homes, Passive House, Landcom and Development Victoria.

GBCA Chief executive officer Davina Rooney stated that the standard will guarantee health benefits to home inhabitants and will make Australia’s residential sector more resilient in the future.

By substantially elevating the standard to which new residences are designed and constructed, she said, the nation can enhance health and wellbeing while cutting energy bills and adhering to emissions reduction commitments.

She said further that droughts, bushfires and the coronavirus pandemics have proven the great need for better housing and inhabitant health.

Rooney also said that more houses are needed to accommodate a growing population.

The population is expected to grow to 31 million people by 2030, thus creating a need for an additional 197,000 new houses annually to adhere to the need, she said.

Rooney pointed out that Australians are experiencing the severe effects of natural disasters and paying extremely high energy bills, and thus need more sustainable homes.

Consultation regarding the draft standard will last until 30 October 2020.

The last standard and certification program is set to be presented next summer.