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GreenSmart does it again

GreenSmart does it again

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The annual GreenSmart Symposium in Melbourne was a superb day by all accounts, jam-packed with learnings, networking and inspiration for HIA members.

Laura Valic


From an early morning walking tour to the late-night celebrations, the 2023 HIA Australian GreenSmart Awards and Symposium was a dynamic event focused on the future of sustainable buildings. HIA members from across the country joined together in Melbourne on 25 August to hear about the latest sustainable ideas, regulations and product innovation from an impressive speaker line-up.

Following an invigorating curated design tour that explored the sustainable development initiatives and future plans for the city, attendees were greeted for the symposium by the day’s MC, comedian and TV personality, Tim Ross. His vibrant humour kept everyone engaged as he introduced the speakers, starting with a welcome address from the Hon. Jenny McAllister, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy. According to the minister, the Albanese Government is ensuring more Australians have access to energy-efficient homes.

HIA Managing Director Jocelyn Martin opened the symposium.

‘It’s why in the last Budget, we announced a $1.7 billion package to help households and businesses have more choice over their energy use,’ she says. ‘This is an immense opportunity. We’re looking forward to working with experts, industry and our communities to develop housing solutions that will mean more people can make every watt count.’

Helping to provide data to shape future regulations and illuminate emerging building trends is the CSIRO’s Australian Housing Data Portal and a first-of-its-kind AI-powered in-home building assessment tool – Rapid Rate. Attendees heard about the data being unlocked, and how this innovative technology is expected to provide economic, climate and societal benefits well beyond energy-efficient housing.

But the here and now is what many designer and builder members are keen to hear more about in order to prepare for regulatory change. Presented by Simon Croft, HIA’s leading expert on building codes and standards, the audience was taken through the current and future code changes coming into effect as Australia transitions towards net zero. From fast-tracking EV infrastructure in buildings to setting target limits on the embodied emissions of materials going into buildings, attendees such as HIA member Brodie Edge heard about both the opportunities and the challenges on the horizon for the residential construction industry.

A curated design tour explored the sustainable development initiatives and future plans for Melbourne city.

‘The event offered a deeper understanding of present and future regulations within the housing industry but from a practical perspective,’ says Brodie, Senior Draftsperson at Hamlan. ‘HIA GreenSmart’s commitment to offering real-world viewpoints sets it apart, making it an essential event for anyone seeking to navigate the complex landscape of sustainable housing regulations.’

Simon’s presentation was a natural segue for Kingspan’s Stuart Braine to discuss the company’s innovative Kooltherm K12 high-performance insulation. This product is touted to be an easy solution for building professionals to achieve new 7-star energy requirements (read more about Kingspan on pages 46-47). 

While a minimum of 7 stars is soon to become standard for residential construction, many who were sitting in the audience are leading the way in sustainable design and building, often achieving much higher energy performance ratings in their own projects. This is certainly the case for Grant Hartwig and Heather Ghidella from MyStyle Homes (QLD). 

Their 10-star MyInfinity house won the 2023 HIA Australian GreenSmart Display/Project Home award, presented to the duo later that evening, while Joe and Merylese Mercieca from Blue Eco Homes took out the 2023 HIA Australian GreenSmart Home award for a multi-generational and fully accessible house which was built to achieve the highly rigorous Passivhaus-Plus standards.

Also speaking to 10-star energy ratings was keynote speaker, environmental scientist and TV presenter, Dr Josh Byrne. A decade ago, Josh set an industry benchmark by designing a 10-star GreenSmart property in Fremantle, WA. Since it was built, he has been living there with his family, monitoring its performance and using the house as a learning lab for high-performance homes. Josh generously shared his observations and journey with attendees both on and off the stage.

The symposium continued into the afternoon with a panel session about the role of the energy assessor in light of continuing NCC energy-efficiency upgrades. The panellists dived into what stage of the design and construction process it makes sense for the assessor to intersect, in addition to the relevance of introducing an accreditation scheme for the profession.

Many attendees expressing a wish to get together again next year.

Before the much-anticipated awards evening kicked off, Liam Wallis from Melbourne-based HIP V. HYPE rounded off the event with a look into one of his company’s carbon-neutral apartment projects, Ferrars & York. Liam spoke about its design methodology and features, as well as how an integrated approach to form and functionality can encourage a more conscious and connected lifestyle for residents.

According to Jenny Haling, HIA Manager – Awards Program, the presentation was eye-opening, not only for how well Ferrars & York performs sustainably but how HIP V. HYPE works collectively with fellow professionals to constantly innovate. ‘They have in place processes to enable skilled people to collaborate to elevate the end outcome, benefiting the people living in the dwellings,’ she explains. ‘Their work with local manufacturers to create new timber products to a European standard is outstanding.’ 

With many attendees expressing a wish to get together again next year, keep your eye open for the 2024 details so you don’t miss your opportunity to attend such a dynamic business event! 

GreenSmart awards nominations open soon

Congratulations to this year’s Australian GreenSmart winners. To enter your own sustainable projects into next year’s awards, look out for nominations opening in early 2024.
HIA thanks NatHERS (major sponsor), Kingspan, The Australian Reinforcing Company, COLORBOND steel, Vantage’s AWS, Wood Solutions, Holcim, Bondor Metecno and HIA Insurance Services for their sponsorship support of the 2023 HIA Australian GreenSmart Awards and Symposium.

First published on 1 November 2023

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