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New lifestyle show takes sustainable housing to a mass audience

Posted 27 May 2019 - 11:22am

Residential housing significantly contributes to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and electricity bills remain high, so why is the move to sustainable, energy efficient housing so slow? A new YouTube pilot, Renovate or Rebuild, aims to crack open sustainable building options to a broad audience.

It combines reality-TV with behavioural science by encouraging Australian home owners to choose healthier and more energy efficient homes.

The CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) have funded the pilot episode of Renovate or Rebuild which is currently in production. Renovate or Rebuild is a 30-minute lifestyle show where two teams compete to convince a Sydney-based family that they have the best solution to providing more space, comfort and reduced energy bills.

Team Renovate, headed by former Channel 9’s The Block contestants Michael and Carlene believe the family should renovate their existing home, while Team Rebuild headed by former 2018 contestants from The Block Norm and Jess think the family should knock down and rebuild.

The two solutions are judged by an expert panel on style, sustainability, and cost but ultimately the decision will come down to the family - will they renovate or rebuild?

“CRCLCL research has revealed that 67% of consumers are interested in purchasing homes that are energy efficient, but home-owners don’t know how to navigate all the options,” said Dr Josh Byrne Renovate or Rebuild host and CRCLCL researcher.

“Key findings from the CRCLCL’s social research show that sustainability needs to be communicated in a mainstream way for it to be effective. Our goal with this pilot is to demystify the process of building or renovating an energy efficient home by communicating it in an engaging and entertaining format,” Dr Byrne said.

The episode and supporting website will show how options like correct building orientation, access to natural light, cross ventilation, energy efficiency and solar power can help create a healthy, comfortable and affordable homes.

OEH Director of Sustainability Programs, Mick O'Flynn said, "This is an exciting opportunity to explore a new approach in our role as a catalyst for change. Renovate or Rebuild promotes positive energy homes which reduce energy bills and improve health and wellbeing. Collaborations between industry, academia and government like this project are key to achieving our objective of net zero emissions by 2050."

The pilot episode will be released on YouTube on 28 May 2019.

Find out more at the Renovate or Rebuild website

Project partners include: Master Builders Australia, CSIRO, The Blue Tribe Company, Curtin University, and Josh Byrne & Associates.

Renovate or Rebuild both builds-on and contributes to work undertaken in other CRCLCL projects in partnership with the Office of Environment and Heritage, particularly the Sustainable Housing Construction Industry Roadmap which is identifying what the building industry can do to shift the market towards sustainable housing; also partnering in this project are the Green Building Council of Australia, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, and CSIRO.