Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 26 Spring 2010 Contents 110 INSITE SPRING 2010
per cent reduction in
schools will have an
18 to 31 per cent
reduction and hospitals 14 to 40 per cent.
“It’s quite a big change really,” says Ben
Farrell, building environmental consultant
from Gabriels Environmental Design, a
‘green’ leader in Australia. “It’s a big step up
from 2009.” Under the 2009 code, external
walls had to perform at an R1.8 insulation
level: under the 2010 code this has been
increased to R2.8. Ben says the biggest
implication is for cavity brick construction.
“To achieve R1.8 you just put insulation
foil in the cavity,” he explains. “For R2.8, the
standard cavity is not wide enough for thick
enough insulation – buildings will have to
move from standard construction.”
Julie de Jong from Craig Steere Architects
expects all architects agree designing for
energy efficiency is of utmost importance.
“Nonetheless, the enforcement of these
‘minimum standards’ can often leave a
lot to be desired, particularly because the
regulation relies on standard measuring and
testing of buildings,” she says.
Julie says the two different methods of
testing thermal performance simplify a very
complex problem by adding up all the parts
and assuming the inhabitants won’t alter
their environment to improve their comfort.
In addition, different results can be produced
depending on which testing system is used.
A more holistic measuring system is the
voluntary GBCA Green Star rating, evaluating
environmental design and construction of a
building on thermal performance, embodied
energy, energy usage, water usage, indoor
environment quality, location to amenities
and public transport, land use and ecology,
emissions and innovation.
A four-star, Green Star-certified rating
signifies ‘best practice’ in ESD and/or
construction; five-star signifies ‘Australian
excellence’; six-stars signifies ‘world
leadership’. But, as a voluntary system, it’s a
drop in the ocean in terms of best practice
building activity and has little or no impact
on everyday residential construction.
At the time of going to print, WA had 14 of
Australia’s 253 Green Star-certified projects,
(5.5 per cent), lagging behind Victoria (69),
NSW (63), Queensland (59), SA (25) and the
ACT (20); and 36 (8.6 per cent) of the nation’s
crude backward tool that has a woefully low
minimum standard,” Tone says.
Since 06, the BCA has had energy-efficiency
measures for all building classifications (prior
to 06 commercial buildings weren’t included).
The National Strategy on Energy Efficiency
(released by the Council of Australian
Governments in 2009) commits to increase
the performance standard for all new buildings
through ongoing revision of the BCA.
Under the 2010 revision of the code, new
residential buildings must have a six-star
energy rating, up from five stars in 2009’s
code. In addition, the stringency of energy-
efficiency requirements for all classes of new
commercial buildings has been increased.
WA is one of four States to defer the uptake
of the residential aspect of the 2010 code until
May 2011 in an effort to let industry catch up.
However, local architect and climate change
ambassador Gerard Siero says the building
industry has had five millennia to do that.
“Solar design principles were used in
China 5000 years ago,” he says. “Six stars is
easily achieved with correct orientation and
solar balancing – normal practice among
most architects for decades.”
Curtin University’s Dr Elizabeth Karol
agrees a six-star minimum is not sufficient to
fundamentally change anything. “Unless we
are talking about eight stars, all we’re really
saying is, stuff a whole lot of insulation in and
you’ll be right.” However, she concedes t hat
progress is being made, albeit very slowly.
“When the star rating first came in, five stars
was top of the range. Now, we go up to 10.”
In reference to the increased stringency
for commercial buildings, it is predicted that
under the 2010 BCA, new office buildings
“We are currently stuck with a regulatory
system that prevents worst practice rather than
promoting best practice” Tone Wheeler (inset), NSW ’s Environa Studio
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