All new houses built in South Australia should achieve a 6-star level of energy efficiency. It’s good, and not very far away from Zero Energy Building (ZEB) standards. A few additional energy-efficient features and a small photovoltaic system (or other renewable system) can turn these homes into Zero Energy buildings.
Australia hasn’t yet a Zero Energy Building program, but its Green Star program is a good starting point.
The first Australian Zero Energy Buildings
There has been recent news about Zero Energy Buildings in Australia's media. Some of these news describe these buildings as a special type of homes or offices, far in the future, requiring very special features or design. But that is not the right way of looking at it.
Zero energy buildings can be the rule in our immediate future. California and the EU have initiated Zero Energy Building programs; ZEB standards will be mandatory for all new homes from 2020 on.
Such approach will not increase the price of new buildings significantly, nor will it demand very smart design features or large on-site green electricity systems. With adequate procedures and funding, the initial higher costs – associated to higher levels of insulation, or very energy-efficient windows… - will have a quick payback.
Why Australia should have a Zero Energy Buildings program
Australia is highly exposed to the negative impacts of climate change: extreme weather events, rising sea levels, flooding of coastal cities, destruction of coral reefs and marine life…
And Zero Energy buildings are a powerful tool to fight it. We should not forget that Australian buildings consume a large part of the country's primary energy.
And it doesn't have to be this way. Programs such as the 6 Star program of South Australia are a good starting point.
The 6 star program - designing and constructing a Zero Energy House
A Zero Energy House,or school, or office is mostly a very energy efficient building with a small renewable source of energy.
Some features depend on the climate zone where the building is located, but there are some basics - common to most climates - that are stressed by the South Australia's 6 Star Program:
- a good orientation of the building on the block ; a proper orientation of the main living areas to the sun, without large west- or east-facing windows.
- High levels of insulation (all over the roofs and ceilings, and external walls);
- High efficient windows and glazing systems.
- Complete sealing of openings (to prevent draughts);
- Provision of adequate cross ventilation systems (hot climates);
- Energy efficient lighting, appliances and water systems.
See for more details on Zero Energy Buildings:
See: Zero Energy Buildings Features
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