Orange raising the roof with the rest of NSW

Article from CommercialRealEstate.com.au 

Builders in Orange and across NSW will stop constructing homes with dark-coloured roofs and will raise energy efficiency standards for houses, under plans outlined by Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes. 

In an address that moved the focus of achieving net zero carbon emissions away from new technology and on to changes in existing behaviour, Mr Stokes said the 10-star Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) rating requirements for new residential dwellings would rise from 5.5 stars to 7 stars. 

Under a separate Net Zero Cities Action Plan being developed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, all new housing would be required to have light-coloured roofing to reduce the urban “heat island” effect that was a problem in western Sydney in particular, Mr Stokes said. 

“It’s quite incredible that in a country as hot as Australia, we’re still building homes with dark roofing,” he told a Committee for Sydney audience. 

“A policy switch to ensure that all new housing has light-coloured roofing would have an enormous impact on the urban heat island effect in our city, and I will be asking the Department of Planning to implement this as part of our Net Zero Cities approach.” 

Mr Stokes also said he had asked the department to investigate options for reducing scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions on major mining projects and potentially linking requirements for this to consent processes. 

“Scope 1 and 2 emissions are the greatest contributor to greenhouse gases, and we have the power to limit these emissions through a more rigorous assessment of project applications and through the imposition of conditions on development consent,” he said. 

Home builders who have just completed a consultation process on colour-related house energy and emission standards for future inclusion in the National Construction Code were cautious about the NSW announcement. 

Housing Industry Association executive director of building policy Simon Croft said the organisation had neither opposed nor supported the NCC changes, and noted newer technology had allowed darker paints to absorb less heat. 

“It’s not necessarily a ‘dark is bad’ thing,” Mr Croft told The Australian Financial Review. 

Consumer preferences were currently for darker roofs, and any change would require re-education of consumers and sufficient time for supply chains to adjust, he said. Industry consultation would also be necessary. 

Individual builders were less diplomatic. 

“It’s a thin end of the wedge,” said one. “We get the logic, but it’s an interesting decision to be made when you start telling people what sort of house they can have.” 

Changed roof colour requirements would affect whole dwellings, he said. 

“That’ll change the entire colour palette of your house. Dark bricks are a thing now. What does that mean for walls?” 

The Committee for Sydney praised the move. 

“Of all the things that can be done about the problem of living with extreme heat in western Sydney, the easiest is requiring light-coloured roofs. This makes all the sense in the world,” chief executive Gabriel Metcalf said. 

“Requiring developers to provide a real backyard that has room for a tree is going to make life for the future residents so much better, so we’re very happy to see that too.” 

In comments that contrasted with his federal counterparts’ focus on the use of new – and as yet, undiscovered – technology to achieve net zero carbon emissions nationally by 2050, Mr Stokes put the onus on a reduction in consumption and changes in behaviour. 

“When thinking about net zero, exciting technological advancements often come to mind like hydrogen, solar and wind farms, big batteries and electric vehicles,” he said. 

“New technologies like batteries and electric vehicles will play an important role in the design of our cities, and it’s important we plan to build them in. But it’s also important that we don’t let these shiny new things distract us from the basics of good design and planning.” 

Some of the best ideas were not exciting or new, but were crucial to achieving net zero, he said. 

“Embracing technological advances has to go hand-in-hand with measures to reduce consumption in the first place, and ensuring we don’t let the most significant elements of our cities – people and place – be engineered out.” 

Posted in Uncategorized on 24th November, 2021