The Australian Institute of Architects is calling for all Victorian political parties to commit to the development of a roadmap for zero carbon buildings ahead of next month’s state election.
As professionals working for the betterment of the built environment, the Institute acknowledges Victoria’s significant influence in raising national building standards. But the state government will now have an opportunity to deliver nation-leading reforms to help address climate change and accelerate respect for First Nations principles in the built environment.
The Institute’s Victorian Chapter President, David Wagner FRAIA, said the commercial and residential building sectors offered significant potential for achieving deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
“A roadmap for zero carbon buildings that is developed in collaboration with stakeholders from the building, construction and allied industries sectors is critical to help Victoria achieve its emission reduction targets,’’ he said.
“A practical plan is needed that reduces regulatory hurdles, promotes innovation and delivers economic returns.
The Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter says the roadmap towards carbon neutral buildings in the state must achieve the following:
- remove regulatory roadblocks to sustainable design
- create incentives for retrofitting and upgrading existing buildings
- support local manufacture of sustainable building materials
- invest in research, training, and consumer education.
Mr Wagner acknowledged the Victorian Government’s work over many years to support sustainability and quality in building standards and said a dedicated roadmap would put government, the industry and consumers on the same path towards reducing emissions.
“We need regulations that support sustainability initiatives like energy efficiency and electrification, urban heating and biodiversity,’’ he said.
“Incentives also need to be introduced to encourage retrofitting and upgrading existing buildings and mandatory transparency around a building’s energy efficiency rating before it is rented or sold.’’
The Institute will also call for the government to ensure building and infrastructure procurement processes are underpinned by a respect for Country approach, in partnership with First Nations communities.
“We want to see an ethical design approach prioritised with a framework and guidelines for the planning, design and delivery of built environment projects in Victoria,” he said.
The Institute is also campaigning for a commitment from government to building reforms that improve the quality of built design, particularly of apartments.
It recommends regulating that only an architect can prepare or oversee the design for complex or larger buildings and that a more rigorous system is introduced to oversee design and construction through a scheme of declarations and certifications.
“Critical design decisions impact everything from building safety and longevity to the health of the occupants and energy efficiency as well as ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs,’’ Mr Wagner said.
“Design decisions also impact neighbouring buildings and their occupants for many decades and the best way to manage these impacts is to ensure that a high level of training and skill is brought to all phases of the design process.”
Further, the Institute is calling for government support to improve apartment design standards in line with the recent Victorian Parliamentary Apartment Design Standard Inquiry report.
“We believe in legislating better apartment standards recognising that apartments will increasingly become a mainstream housing choice for many people,’’ Mr Wagner said.
“The apartments built today will be in use for many decades to come and a major government policy commitment is required to rigorously pursue much higher design standards.”
The Institute is also seeking a commitment from government to strengthen heritage protections through the introduction of tax incentives for heritage preservation and a $50 million fund for Heritage Victoria to undertake heritage assessments and Living Heritage Grants.
It is also calling for changes to make the business of building in Victoria easier, with the creation of a single government building procurement framework and a major review of risk mitigation to deliver fair, sensible and insurable procurement contracts.
For interviews, please contact: Rosanne Barrett on behalf of the Australian Institute of Architects
M. +61 (0) 425 420 024 | firstname.lastname@example.org