New homes throughout Australia will need to be healthy, resilient and at least energy neutral if they are to achieve certification under a new rating tool for residential property.

Last week, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) launched its strategy to deliver greater energy efficiency in residential homes.

A key part of the strategy will be rating tool for new homes.

Set to be released in draft form next month, the new tool will be known as Green Star for New Homes.

To gain certification under the new tool, homes will need to achieve results in three categories:

  • First, there is the healthy Under this category, homes will need to be healthy and provide adequate ventilation to prevent mould growth, restrict the entry of pollutants such as bushfire smoke, be thermally comfortable, use low or non-toxic materials and operate on high-quality LEDs.
  • Next, there is the resilient Under this category, homes will need to be water efficient and be constructed to deliver better than code resilience to natural disasters and future climate change conditions such as bushfires, flooding and heat stress.
  • Finally, there is the net zero energy Under this category, homes will need to achieve net zero energy through generating sufficient renewable energy to power all estimated and regulated loads as well as estimated appliances and plug loads and to be airtight, be efficient and be powered entirely by electricity as opposed to gas.

Homes will be certified as having been either designed to the standard (but not yet constructed) or as having been constructed to the standard after construction.

The ability to certify homes for design will deliver a useful marketing tool for builders who wish to promote the sustainability of their yet-to be constructed homes to prospective buyers.

To be certified as being designed to the standard, builders will need to submit GBCA standard plans, modelling results, specification clauses, and material and fixture selections for the product line that will be certified.

To be certified to the standards after construction, meanwhile, builders will need to submit statutory declarations, air-tightness results and any additional information which is relevant due to any variation.

GBCA CEO Davina Rooney said the importance of residential energy efficiency should not be underestimated.

Australians, Rooney says, spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors – two thirds of which is spent at home.

The residential sector, meanwhile, accounts for 57 percent of carbon footprint which is attributable to our built environment.

“If we are serious about limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees, as committed to in the Paris Agreement, we can’t ignore our homes,” Rooney said.

The new standard and certification process are set for release between December 2020 and February 2021.

An early access program will be released this month whilst the draft standard will be released for consultation next month.