Green Buildings

Good building design decreases power consumption, saves money and reduces the effects of climate change. On the other hand, poor building design is uneconomical and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Many councils have amended their Planning Scheme to achieve environmentally sustainable development and we hope Colac Otway will join them. The addendum includes one such example.

So how can a developer be certain that their building envelope meets best practice energy efficiency standards? Before commencing a major renovation or new construction, a building permit will be required, confirming compliance with the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC).

It’s important to be aware that the NCC only describes minimum standards that must be met and not what is considered best practice. To ensure you future proof your asset, it is strongly recommended that you exceed today’s minimum standards. This also makes sure your property will remain a ‘good performer’ as the standards will be raised over time and that you are ready for the recently introduced mandatory disclosure scheme.

For both homeowners planning a renovation to an existing dwelling and developers planning to construct multistorey buildings, it is important to ensure that environmentally sustainable development is considered during the initial scoping stages of a project. In fact, it is more costly to incorporate sustainability measures after the design process is complete. The Planning Scheme checklist to achieve these objectives would look something like this.

Mandatory Requirements

You must meet:

the National Construction Code (NCC) requirements for energy efficiency (6 Star minimum rating), and the objectives and standards of the local planning scheme.

Council’s Best Practice Standards

• Achieve an energy efficiency standard at least 10% above minimum NCC compliance.

• Install energy efficient lighting to achieve at least 10% above NCC compliance.

• Provide on-site renewable energy generation.

• Provide external natural clothes drying facilities.

• Install energy efficient hot water, heating and cooling systems.

Developments, which seek to vary from these best practice standards must demonstrate how energy efficiency can be satisfactorily achieved.

Finally, if we are to make progress towards a zero-carbon housing sector we should be delivering housing performing to 7 Stars right now. The data indicates that the minimum regulatory standards are a powerful tool to push the market and suggests that a significant increase in the minimum Star rating will achieve this outcome in the short term.

The next opportunity for increasing the minimum Star rating will be in 2022 as part of the next round of updates to the National Construction Code. Significant changes must be made. While we can demand improved performance outcomes in our houses, we must also continue to push for improved minimum regulations to support change to industry practices.

To achieve this objective the G21 Planning Pillar would need an extra project. That is, a recommendation to update the NCC in 2022 to 7 Star minimum rating. Colac Otway Shire can have a key role in leading this initiative.

Addendum

Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme: Environmentally Sustainable Development

This policy applies throughout the City of Greater Bendigo to residential and non-residential development that requires a planning permit in accordance with the thresholds given.

Policy basis

Greater Bendigo City Council is committed to creating an environmentally sustainable city. Critical to achieving this commitment is for development to incorporate appropriate environmentally sustainable design standards. This policy aims to integrate environmental sustainability principles into land-use planning, new developments and redevelopment of existing infrastructure. This policy provides a framework for early consideration of environmental sustainability at the building design stage in order to achieve the following efficiencies and benefits:

  • Easier compliance with building requirements through passive design;
  • Reduction of costs over the life of the building;
  • Improved affordability over the longer term through reduced running costs;
  • Improved amenity and liveability;
  • More environmentally sustainable urban form; and
  • Integrated water management.

If environmentally sustainable design is not considered at the time of planning approval, the ability to achieve environmentally sustainable development (ESD) may be compromised by the time these matters are considered as part of a building approval. In addition, there may be difficulties or extra costs associated with retrofitting the development to implement environmentally sustainable design principles.

This policy does not prescribe performance outcomes. The policy enables the provision of information and provides decision guidelines which will assist in the assessment of whether development meets environmentally sustainable development objectives.

 This policy complements a range of non-statutory measures aimed at encouraging environmentally sustainable development. These measures include educating residents and applicants, assisting applicants to use ESD tools, leading by example with Council projects, promotion of exemplary private projects and promotion of the use of materials with favourable life cycle impacts.

Objectives

The overarching objective is that development should achieve best practice in environmentally sustainable development from the design stage through to construction and operation.

In the context of this policy best practice ESD is defined as a combination of commercially proven techniques, methodologies and systems, appropriate to the scale of development and site specific opportunities and constraints, which are demonstrated and locally available and have already led to optimum ESD outcomes. Best practice in the built environment encompasses the full life of the build. The following objectives should be satisfied where applicable:

Energy performance

  • To improve the efficient use of energy, by ensuring development demonstrates design potential for ESD initiatives at the planning stage.
  • To reduce total operating greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed amendments will align with these Council plans; Colac 2050 Citizen Jury Report (2020), Environment Strategy 2010-2018, 2013 Roadmap for a Carbon Neutral Plan, Colac Otway Rural Living Strategy 2011, Environment Action Plan 2013-2015, Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2017- 2027, 2017-2021 Council Strategic Plan.