Between fires, floods and a pandemic, the Lucky Country has been anything but as of late. And as much as we’d like to look forward to a better future, the spectre of climate change looms ever beyond us. If anything we are bound to see more fires, floods and storms in the years to come.

The bright side? Well currently the building industry is supplying the country with 9% of all Australian jobs and 8% of the GDP. It is this business that is bound to impel a sound era of economic recovery in the coming days.

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has introduced a report, Tomorrow’s Homes, that describes how enhanced residential construction can in turn enhance job opportunities as well as revive the impaired economy in the wake of COVID-19—also how better energy efficiency standards can help citizens save $600 million in energy costs.

Experts tell us that the country will require houses for about 41 million citizens by about 2050. If building designers construct them more sustainably, these houses will be healthier, more ecofriendly, and ensure more than half a billion dollars for the building business in the next 10 years, all while creating 7000 employment opportunities. This is a silver lining that could turn golden in the very near future.

So how do we ensure the sustainability of tomorrow’s homes? National Building Code standards are becoming more stringent as we aim to achieve our international climate requirements in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement.

If we fail to act now, then a good number of construction professionals might encounter a delay in work. Now is the time for these workers to upskill; with aid from the government, industry professionals could be educated in the installation and maintenance of sustainable features such as  double glazed windows, heat recovery ventilation, insulation and weather proofing that render homes warm in the wintertime and cooler in the summertime.

An official certification system would empower consumers to trust the services they procure and the products installed in their homes. Benchmarking would set defined standards, so consumers make informed decisions.

The report also indicates that though consumers love the light, comfort and cost efficiency of sustainable houses, they aren’t familiar enough with sustainable concepts to request ecofriendly products and services. Any and all discussions of sustainability tend to be so technical, mentioning foreign terms like thermal bridges and kilowatts, as opposed to the comfort and convenience of the sustainable living experience. To address this issue, future sustainability discussions should be presented in layman’s terms.

Tomorrow’s Homes suggests that prominent media figures such as TV icons and social media influencers in the area of home design and lifestyle be employed to film relevant, entertaining messages regarding this issue; nontechnical storytelling sessions marketed on the Internet and other media outlets. And consumers can describe the problems and benefits inherent to sustainable home features to each another via Internet-based peer support; allowing people to chat it out in forums and across social media as opposed to perusing technical texts.

Research also reveals that today’s homebuyers don’t know the cost of sustainable housing features. To assess the true value of these features, we require economic tools to help us in our estimations. We must train valuers and real estate pros on these matters, along with offering incentives like low interest loan and mortgage rates.

We can indeed enjoy a brighter, safer, more sustainable tomorrow in Australia—but only if we get to work today—building, learning and preparing for a far more fortunate future in the Lucky Country.