The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council has called on Australian governments to invest in building better homes to help Australia's post-COVID economy.
'Tomorrow's Homes', a new platform and policy framework set up by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), explains that with our population forecast to reach 41 million people by 2050, the nation will need to build up to 197,000 homes each year.
"At a time of economic uncertainty, building better performing homes can protect jobs, revitalise the economy, while saving $600 million on energy bills and creating healthier, more comfortable homes for Australians," says an ASBEC media release.
Accelerating the transition to national building codes that prioritise energy efficiency and international climate obligations could deliver more than half a billion dollars to the construction industry over the next decade, while creating 7000 jobs, the release says.
"Research shows that, while consumers value the benefits of comfort and affordability provided by sustainable homes, they lack the technical language and know-how to ask for these features," says Suzanne Toumbourou, executive director of ASBEC. "We must highlight the features and benefits of sustainable homes in a way that makes sense to everyone. To help consumers talk about and understand the benefits of sustainable features, we should build awareness using brand ambassadors that consumers know and trust. We need to appeal to the aspirations of homeowners by marketing sustainable housing via online, magazine and TV lifestyle content – and make sure it’s focused on entertainment and storytelling, not boring technicalities. At the same time, peer-to-peer support via social media will help consumers explain the benefits and the process of retrofitting to one another, growing momentum for better homes,” she continues.
“A system of certification would help consumers know they can trust the services and the products that make their homes sustainable. Benchmarking would establish clear standards, so consumers know exactly what they’re buying,” explains Toumbourou.
“Finally, we need the financial tools to value sustainable homes. This means training valuers and the real estate industry to recognise and quantify the benefits of particular sustainable features. Incentives such as lower interest rates on mortgages for sustainable homes should be delivered through the finance industry,” she concludes.
The media release stresses that BAU (business as usual) is not an option for Australian construction after COVID-19. "If we start laying the foundations to build tomorrow's homes now, Australians can enjoy a revitalised post-COVID economy, healthier homes and lower energy bills into the future," says the ASBEC release.