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Older homes left out in the cold by new Building Sustainability SEPP

The NSW Government’s new Building Sustainability SEPP is a step in the right direction for standards for new homes, but much more needs to be done in relation to existing homes. [1]   

The new SEPP includes updating BASIX standards for new residential buildings, including: 

  • an increase of the thermal performance standard from an average of 5.5-6 stars to 7 stars Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS)rating 
  • an increase of between 7-11% in greenhouse gas reduction (this standard varies depending on location and type of residential development proposed) for older homes and renters. 

“Increasing the NatHERS standard to seven stars is a very welcome improvement.” Nature Conservation Council CEO Jacqui Mumford said. 

“This will significantly reduce the energy people have to use to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer. That will also help to keep home energy bills down. 

“However, the new planning policy does not address the much bigger problem of older, energy hungry homes. Some older homes are energy sinks because they take so much power to make them liveable. 

“The government needs to develop policies to retrofit older homes so everyone in NSW can live in a home that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to keep comfortable.” 

Ms Mumford said the updated BASIX standard in the new SEPP had been part of a broader reform package to make homes and communities more liveable—the Design and Place SEPP—which the Coalition scrapped to please the developer lobby. 

“One of the more important features of the Design and Place SEPP was minimum tree canopy measures for urban areas,” Ms Mumford said. 

“This reform is critical to ensure communities don’t become unbearably hot as temperatures rise and dangerous heat waves become more common, especially in Western Sydney. 

“We urge the government to act on this important issue before the election next March.” 

REFERENCES 

[1] Sustainable Buildings SEPP, NSW Government, August 29, 2022   

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