Lochiel Park in South Australia has demonstrated the benefits of building homes to a higher standard – a minimum 7.5-star rating in this case.
There has never been a better time for public money to go into improving the performance of Australian housing. We could have cut household bills and emissions, as well as saving construction jobs.
A long-term housing stimulus package that focuses on retrofitting to cut energy demand would also help households repay the debts being accumulated during this crisis.
Artist rendition of the National Western Center, a net-zero campus under construction in Denver to house multiple activities.
City and County of Denver | Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center
Net zero energy buildings produce at least as much energy as they use. Designing whole net zero campuses and communities takes the energy and climate benefits to a higher level.
Builders compete for customers by touting the features of their homes. Some builders promote 'six-star' home energy ratings in ways that could mislead consumers and breach Australian Consumer Law.
After the 'world's biggest work-from-home experiment', many people (and their employers) might decide they needn't commute every day. If even a fraction do that, infrastructure needs will change.
Those endless cups of tea while working from home are unlikely to add much to your electricity bill. But coronavirus poses other problems for the electricity sector.
A visitor sanitises hands before entering a state hospital at Yaba, Lagos. Hospitals like this are likely to suffer power cuts as lock down force Nigerians to stay at home and consume more power.
Photo by Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images
Effective public health response to a pandemic, depends on the availability of a stable power supply system.
The University of Wollongong Illawarra Flame House demonstrates how a typical Aussie fibro home can be transformed into a net-zero-energy sustainable home.
Buyers pay more for a home they know has a good energy rating. That's worth an extra 2.4-9.4% in the only part of Australia where energy ratings must be disclosed at the time of sale.
Carbon offsetting is one way of doing it – but sometimes the simplest methods work best.
Most new houses being built in Australia do no better than comply with the minimum energy performance required by regulations.
Australia requires a minimum six-star energy rating for new housing. New homes average just 6.2 stars, so builders are doing the bare minimum to comply, even as the costs of this approach are rising.
Tiny houses on display in Portland, Oregon in 2017.
Dan David Cook/Wikimedia
Research shows that moving from a larger dwelling to a tiny home can change behavior in surprising ways.
Lochiel Park in Adelaide was Australia’s first large-scale attempt to create homes that use near net zero energy.
Air conditioning changed both building design and people's active management of home temperatures. A return to houses designed for our climate can keep us comfortable and cut energy use and emissions.
Bitcoin may have a large carbon footprint, but cleaner digital currencies aren't going to prevent an environmental disaster.
The latest Australian Environmental-Economic Accounts tell us waste production is rising with GDP, but the information is incomplete and widely ignored.
Water and energy use are becoming more efficient, which is good news for both the economy and the environment. But Australia has yet to realise the value of national environmental accounting.
A jumble of steel scrap.
If the US were to stop dumping these valuable metals in landfills and to cease exporting them as cheap scrap, its imports could fall, and there would be less of these metals being made from scratch.
The study showed that boosting the office temperature a little can save energy and keep office workers comfortable without sacrificing their cognitive performance.
Mami Kempe / The Conversation
Our study found that office workers performed just the same, whether the air conditioning was set at 22°C or 25°C. But making that tweak can cut energy use by 18%.
This episode is all about bitcoin. Will it be the currency of the future? Who’s trying to capitalise on the legal loopholes of cryptocurrencies? And is it possible to make mining them more green.
Falling back or staying put?
Advocates say daylight saving time saves energy and wins wars. But studies show that injuries and illnesses rise when the clocks change. Some states may end the practice; others could make it permanent.
Solar panels are integrated into a block of flats in the Viikki area of Helsinki, Finland.
Not everyone can afford to pay for solar panels up front, but local planners can help disadvantaged households overcome energy poverty in several ways.
Soaring heating costs mean many vulnerable Australians endure cold houses and the associated risks to their health.
Paul Vasarhelyi from www.shutterstock.com
The idea of a hot and sunny land is so baked into our thinking about Australia that we've failed to design and build houses that protect us from the cold.