Eight years after the introduction of the six-star NatHERS minimum requirement for new housing in Australia, survey results show the market is delivering four out of five houses that just meet this requirement. With only 1.5% designed to 7.5 stars or beyond, regulation rather than the economically optimal energy rating is clearly driving the energy performance of Australian homes.
The performance for 187,320 house ratings show almost 82% just met the minimum standard (6.0-6.4 star). Another 16% performed just above the minimum standard (6.5-6.9 star). Higher energy efficiency or even environmental sustainability in housing provides not only significant benefits to the individual but also to society, and these improvements can be delivered for little additional cost.
There is a body of research in Australia which finds that if we are to achieve a low energy or low carbon housing sector by 2050 (in line with global greenhouse gas emission reduction targets), we should be delivering housing performance currently around 7 to 8 star. If mandatory energy ratings aren’t increased, Australia will fall further behind international best practice. This six-star minimum falls short of what is optimal in terms of environmental, economic and social outcomes. It’s also below the minimum set by many other countries.