SEE talks deep with SmartRate and Education in Building

Q1: Who is responsible for the creation of a sustainable building – the building owner or the building industry?

Both – the owner and builder meed to work together to create a building that meets the owner’s needs, is comfortable to live in and doesn’t have a big environmental footprint from its materials etc. and its operational impact and costs are minimised. Builders historically will do the “minimum” and will only go outside of the square if they have an owner they can work with and is prepared to accept new ideas and pay for them as required.

Q2: Comment on the following: Sustainability is still relatively young in Australia, whereby we don’t know what our individual or collective role is to achieve it.

Sustainability is a “buzz” word. It is used out of context and is not really understood by both builders and home owners alike. Our role at Smartrate and EIB is to educate the industry as to what is possible i.e. not just how to meet the minimum regulatory requirements but to go beyond this – e.g. how to install insulation correctly, how to inspect a job to ensure it meets the NCC BCA standards, we need to lift our game in these areas as builders do not place a high importance on it at all. Home owners are bamboozled by marketing hype that does not tell the whole story either. We are aiming to educate the whole community as to what the facts are and what works and what doesn’t.

Q3: Regulation, standardisation of energy efficiency plus innovation of new materials and building systems have been positive drivers changing our old school ways of constructing buildings. Are we ready now to up the ante to provide the best sustainable outcome, inside and out? Who and what will it take?

Yes – EIB and SmartRate want to raise the stakes for the industry. We see the role of assessors being not just being able to rate new dwellings to meet the NCC BCA requirements but to also to inspect new buildings as they are built to ensure the client is getting what they are paying for. Building air tightness, correct installation of insulation etc. are all things that we need to improve our approach to. Initially non mandatory (voluntary) inspections could be offered. Some builders will use these approaches as a point of difference. We believe market forces will slowly change the way builders do their business. Regulation always sets the lowest denominator which is counterproductive.

All of the above can also be applied to existing housing stock as well.

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