The South Australian Government must not compromise the housing health and safety of critical workers who will develop emerging green steel and hydrogen industries.
Welcoming the announcement of a hydrogen hub at Port Bonython, the Institute’s South Australia Chapter Executive Director, Nicolette Di Lernia, said calls to water down construction standards for lightweight and transportable housing – such as that used in construction and worker camps – were misguided.
“The announcement of the hydrogen works is a very positive initiative for South Australia,” she said. “It will allow the state to be a leader in green steel and hydrogen for local use as well as export.”
“As with all areas of architecture, however, nothing is more important than the environments we create for people and community. It would be a massive win for the government if it ensured state policy reflected the opportunity for the future cohort of skilled workers to access thermally comfortable and healthy living quarters to the same level as those in the cooler suburbs closer to the city.”
The Institute has supported the introduction of National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 requirements for all states and territories, with no concessions. This is in opposition to some stakeholders in construction and development that are seeking to retain an NCC 2019 concession for transportable and lightweight construction.
The reality of this concession would be offsetting the star ratings of the transportable and lightweight accommodation using rooftop solar, a scenario that would not meet the urban minimum standard.
This would result in essential workers involved in resource and energy projects in arid environments experiencing uncomfortable and unhealthy housing conditions.
“The Institute urges the government to regulate to prevent this from occurring,” she said. “Likewise, the companies involved in these projects should support the health and wellbeing of their staff through investment in quality housing.”
“The hydrogen hub initiative could be the catalyst to develop climate-appropriate key worker housing for remote areas.”
South Australia Chapter President Chris Morley said if the developments were executed well, they would support local communities and jobs. “An economic injection into these arid lands, and better healthy housing will go a long way to retention of the skilled workers and their families,” he said.
The Institute contends the skills and resources are in place to develop prefab panelised heat and cool-resistant buildings that are also designed to exclude poor air quality due to dust storms.