CSIRO: Melbourne hits minimum energy efficiency requirements, but plenty of room to grow

Melbourne’s new homes frequently fall short of ideal standards that would cut occupants’ bills, despite reaching the minimum national energy efficiency requirement.

While almost all houses and apartments built in the past three years meet the National House Energy Rating Scheme’s (NatHERS) 6-star baseline, they are rarely built to an “optimal rating” of 7.5 to 8 stars.

CSIRO senior experimental scientist Michael Ambrose said while higher standards would save residents energy and reduce power bills, most new properties in Victorian postcodes were “tightly packed” around the 6-star rating.

“Victoria has the lowest percentage (in the country) of houses achieving well above the minimum requirement,” Mr Ambrose said.

“Only 14 per cent of houses are at a 6.5-star rating or above, compared to 53 per cent of houses in the ACT and 44 per cent of houses in Tasmania.”

West Melbourne was the city’s most energy-efficient suburb with an average of 7.3 stars for residential houses built after 2016.

Regional Victorian suburbs and towns including Corio, Terang and Nhill have also shone through with some of the most sustainable new houses.

Those in Fitzroy, Elsternwick and Middle Park were the lowest-rating suburbs, with averages falling slightly below the 6-star minimum.

University of Melbourne senior property lecturer Dr Georgia Warren-Myers said buyers had growing interest in energy-efficient homes.

“Given our focus at present on energy bills, being able to better understand the energy consumption of a home prior to ownership or occupation will increase,” she said.

“Particularly in the light of further taxation like carbon taxes.”

Jellis Craig Brunswick agent Lisa Roberts, who has sold many of Melbourne’s most sustainable homes, said buyers were willing to pay a premium.

“There are so few sustainable buildings for sale and that’s because for developers, there’s a lot of extra costs involved,” Ms Roberts said.

“People will pay for a property knowing they have lower running costs because of the design.”

In Brighton, developers Lucent will build the suburb’s first fossil free apartments called Slate House.

Lucent managing director Panos Miltiadou said the 7.8 NatHERS rating was the highest of any residential project in the area.

“Drawing on our past experience we know that socially and environmentally led design is at the forefront of purchaser’s mind, particularly in owner occupiers,” Mr Miltiadou said.

“We see Slate House as contributing to the shift in challenging the status quo of apartment design in Australia.

Energy efficient factors include building orientation, insulation, solar panels, glazing, cross flow ventilation and grey water.