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Summary Update from Workshop 24 May 2013

At the University of South Australia’s city west campus on 24 May 2014, a project workshop was held to discuss the research needed to facilitate the transition to viable zero-carbon housing. 

The workshop covered the following topics:

What research is needed to facilitate the transition to viable zero carbon housing?

A. Zero Carbon Housing requires thinking in terms of systems and materials at all levels:

    • Aesthetics
    • Performance
    • Building type
    • Market

B. Sub-division design vs. energy issues.

    • Conducting literature reviews to find out what we know and what more we need to know about passive and active energy-efficient sub-division designs.
    • Greater understanding of the relationship between the block and house-design choices. This is not normally explained to clients by project home companies. How do we determine the suitability of one housing type (eg terrace) over another?
    • Costs and paybacks associated with higher performing buildings/specifications/equipment/ appliances.

D. Market research on what motivates people to ask for higher star ratings.

E. Compliance issue: Do we actually get what was designed? How do we ensure this?

F. Definition of ‘low carbon living’ and the role of house design vs. in and out of house behaviours

G. Zero Carbon apartments/row houses?

    • Individual units as well as whole-of-building approach
    • More monitoring in apartment living is needed
    • AccuRate needs validating a number of assumptions for apartment living.

H. Using an agreed algorithm to compare appliances with the aim of improving a house’s energy-efficiency.

I. Validate star-rating bands in the rating tools and consider behaviour and lifestyles: confirming occupancy profiles/user profiles to validate energy loads.

J. Detailed comfort study for the various climate zones in Australia.

K. The need for a central monitoring database containing all the data from around the country.

L. A central communication point for data users and data owners. How to overcome the ownership barrier?

M. A centralized platform to provide client education on how to operate the building as designed, how to choose appliances etc. in a whole-of-system context.

N. A decision tree for people to make their own decisions when building new homes. It needs to be simple to use yet able to provide more detail when required. In the end people should be able to see how they arrived at the whole-of-system integration.

O. Collecting convincing evidence to regulate the mandatory disclosure of building performance information.

    • Understand market drivers for the real estate industry and devise ways to sell even low-star houses when disclosure is mandatory.
    • Retrofit existing homes simply to show how easy they are to upgrade for sale.. Project home clients are most likely from a lack of knowledge to buy inefficient homes because of their low cost.


    What useful project outcome should be produced for the building industry, general public and regulators to enable transition to zero carbon housing?

    A. Tools to help users to determine user behaviour and occupancy themselves for the use of building rating tools.

      • Simple tools for the general public to use themselves
      • Link this tool to Program 3 on social behavioural analysis

      B. Improve current tools with validated monitored data.

      C. Provide proofs for Mandatory Disclosure:

        • Make the case for cost-saving upgrades for sale
        • Build and provide cost/benefit equations
        • Equations for energy vs. comfort
        • Identifybenefits for builders/developers: eg. brand distinction, cost savings, higher sale prices

      D. Improve the credibility of current tools through:

        • Affordable post-construction building performance testing procedures
        • Simple methodology for compliance verification & commissioning routine

      Other issues discussed:

      A. Carbon rating and labelling on products.

      B. Re-using existing facilities to develop associated manufacturing industry (e.g. an obsolete car factory might make new energy-efficient products).

      C. Supply chain and market drivers.

      D. A common framework for energy monitoring eg. common time intervals

      E. New data is required as some existing data is approaching 10 years old.

      F. Ways to measure things that can’t be measured numerically, e.g. the opening of windows.

        • Building the case for cost-saving building upgrades for sale
        • Building and proving cost/benefit equations
        • Building equations focusing on energy vs. comfort
        • Identify benefits for builders/developers: eg. Brand distinction, cost-savings, higher sale prices.

       E. Improve the credibility of current tools via:

        • Affordable post-construction building performance testing procedures
        • Simple methodology for compliance verification & commissioning routine
      RP1006: Viable Integrated Systems for Zero Carbon Housing Systems