Wednesday, 11 October 2023 08:47

State Planning Policy cuts energy bills – but thermal safety is needed Featured

An aerial view of a new housing estate in Western Sydney An aerial view of a new housing estate in Western Sydney WSROC

The peak body representing councils in Western Sydney, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has welcomed the NSW Government’s new building energy standards — but warns that further revision will be needed to ensure climate resilience.Western Sydney residential street SMALL

The new standards for energy performance are outlined in the NSW Government’s Sustainable Building State Environment Planning Policy’s (SEPP) ‘Building Sustainability Index’ (BASIX) which came into effect on Sunday 1 October.

The BASIX tool is used to assesses the expected water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and thermal performance of proposed developments, including new homes.

“The aim of the SEPP is to raise minimum standards for new homes with regards to energy and water usage, bringing New South Wales into line with the National Construction Code standards,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert. 

“The old BASIX SEPP was severely outdated, using pre-1980s climate data, so we congratulate the Government on these updates.

“Communities are increasingly aware that better quality homes will deliver huge savings on energy bills and other costs of living. Better minimum standards are particularly important for renters who do not have control over the performance of their homes.

“However, as we move towards a warmer climate, with increased risks of extreme heatwaves and power outages, WSROC would like to see future iterations of the SEPP incorporate a resilience approach,” said Councillor Calvert.

“At present, home performance is modelled using average climate files. This doesn’t tell us how homes might perform in extreme events, or in the next 10 to 20 years. In addition, homes are currently tested with air-conditioning running.

“This is not a realistic picture of how homes are used. We know that many households can’t afford to run their air-conditioning, and that access to power may be interrupted during an extreme heatwave,” he said.

“In heatwaves, many communities need to shelter in place. And homes should provide a basic level of protection from the outside elements, even in an outage.

“WSROC is calling on the NSW Government to look at how thermal safety could be integrated into our current planning system, and the role that federal, state and local controls may play in this mix,” said Councillor Calvert.

“Western Sydney — which will be home to four million people by 2041 — is particularly exposed to heat due to its geography and weather patterns, including the prevalence of hot westerly winds and lack of cooling sea breezes.

“While the newly announced standards promise to cut thermal energy use by at least 20 per cent and will perhaps save homeowners on power bills, more work is needed to ensure our homes will be safe in our future climate.

“Extreme heat events are Australia’s worst natural hazard for human deaths, except for disease epidemics – we must ensure our homes are designed to provide protection in such events.

“We are inviting the NSW Government to work with WSROC to progress heat resilience, which has emerged as a significant and growing challenge for not just Western Sydney, but for NSW and Australia as a whole.”


For information about WSROC's Urban Heat Planing Toolkit, follow the link!


Last modified on Wednesday, 11 October 2023 09:25

Filter By