Australia’s Property Market Heeds the Green Call: Environmentally Friendly Building on the Rise - Property Inc

Australia’s Property Market Heeds the Green Call: Environmentally Friendly Building on the Rise

The Australian property market has begun to prioritize environmentally friendly buildings, signaling a significant shift towards sustainability and energy efficiency. However, research suggests there’s still a long way to go before this becomes the norm. As Rowan Crosby reports, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) discovered that a mere 5% of building projects exceed minimum environmental standards.

Developers have been urged to reconsider their focus on cost-cutting and instead embrace environmentally friendly practices. “BTS developers are focused on quickly building and selling, often rejecting anything that could increase costs,” explains Professor Hazel Easthope of UNSW, as quoted by Crosby. She emphasizes the need to incorporate energy efficiency into the feasibility studies for Build-to-Sell (BTS) developments.

Meanwhile, Sue Williams notes an increasing demand for eco-credentials among property buyers, with sustainability now being viewed as a sexy apartment feature, equivalent to features like state-of-the-art gourmet kitchens or a pool and spa on-site.

“As recently as 2017, that factor wouldn’t have figured in their decision process, but now they’re looking for energy-saving initiatives and are asking very detailed questions about the thickness of glass we’re installing in buildings, thermal performance… and are very fixated on orientation and taking advantage of solar access,” says Stuart Penklis, Chief Executive of Development at Mirvac.

Developers leading the sustainability charge include Mirvac, Frasers Property, Lendlease, and Mulpha. They are integrating green measures such as better thermal facades, LED lighting, all-electric heating and kitchens, and EV-ready car parking.

A joint initiative by the Property Council of Australia (PCA) and the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) proposes an energy performance rating for all Australian homes to assist buyers and renters. This move is part of the wider recommendations set out in their report, Every Building Counts, to help Australia achieve its decarbonisation goals.

“All we need is the right policy settings to guide that effort. Smart policies should be front and centre for decision-makers seeking to reduce Australia’s emissions,” advises PCA Chief Executive Mike Zorbas.

In contrast to the standard BTS approach, the researchers from AHURI also highlight the potential of the Build-to-Rent (BTR) sector to further the cause of energy efficiency. Easthope asserts that these developments have financial reasons to ensure their buildings operate efficiently in the future, thus providing optimal living environments for their tenants.

While the journey towards a more sustainable Australian property market has started, both Crosby and Williams highlight the need for further innovation and regulation. Property valuation needs to reflect building performance better, they argue, and consumers require comprehensive information about building performance.

Therefore, as Australia heads toward a green future, it is clear that a comprehensive, collective effort is needed from developers, regulators, and consumers alike.

References:

Crosby, Rowan. “Australian developers urged to prioritise environmentally friendly building.” https://thepropertytribune.com.au/business-industry/australian-developers-urged-to-prioritise-environmentally-friendly-building/ 

Williams, Sue. “Why property buyers are getting serious about eco credentials.” https://www.domain.com.au/news/why-property-buyers-are-getting-serious-about-eco-credentials-1217028/ 

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