Q: When it comes to sustainable building what would you like builders to do more of?
GM: Education is paramount. GreenSmart is a great course but is poorly used by industry. We need education along with higher levels of government support, with all levels of government engaged in the process. We need a consistent dialogue between them, and a structure that supports education and good design practice that is simple and cost-effective for the building industry to instigate. Then you train the builders, designers, trades and suppliers – everybody needs to get on board. People say, ‘That’s a lot to do!’ but if you don’t start you’re never going to get it done, and right now we’re just playing around the edges.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge industry faces when it comes to environmentally-friendly housing?
GM: Inconsistent policies from federal, state and local governments and a lack of training – and as a consequence, a lack of understanding from most of the people involved in the process. We need policy all the way through that is consistent, and then the education and the programs to support that. Also industry incentives. If there was policy that when you get over a certain star rating you get a tax break or other incentive, that would give builders and their clients a reason to move forward in a more sustainable way and give compounding energy savings for the life of the building.
Another issue is a lot of industry isn’t properly aware of the COAG Energy Council’s NEPP, which is a plan to deliver a 40 per cent improvement in Australia’s energy productivity by 2030. Energy Ministers have agreed to a national plan that sets a trajectory towards zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings for Australia. Local and federal governments, various universities, and others like myself have all been involved, but many don’t know about it and need to.