Australia’s building regulations need a major overhaul to make a very significant contribution to the reduction in energy consumption. Beyond Zero Emissions have conducted a comprehensive review of Australia’s building codes and produced a report that addresses the issues and calculates the overall effects of implementing change across existing buildings. This would involve defining a better standard for many aspects of the building including air-conditioning, insulation, lighting, electricity and gas supply, materials and other efficiency measures. The retrofitting would occur over that time period for existing dwellings to deliver the overall improvements across the nation.
For a total market investment of $234 billion over fifteen years (or about $15 billion a year), the return is reduced utility bills of around $15 billion a year from the end of the program onwards. So over a time period of just 30 years, the program would pay for itself and then start reaping new benefits. This investment would not need to be government funded, in fact, considering that the annual market expenditure on renovations is already over $30 billion a year; it would be naturally distributed to individual households as an evolutionary change.
Creating a requirement for all buildings to produce a percentage of their own electricity supply would also drive the right behaviours. Setting this level at 50% for residential buildings and 30% for industrial buildings, then slowly increasing the requirement over time would also take the load off centralized generation facilities. This kind of behavior shift is already envisaged in the 100% renewable energy plan that Beyond Zero Emissions also produced.