Tag Archives: CRCLCL

CRC LCL

Making warm cities more liveable

The Bowden low carbon development is one of the CRCLCL’s living laboratory research projects in Adelaide.

The Low Carbon Living CRC (CRCLCL) is championing buildings that will withstand the ravages of harsh climates. During the past seven years, the CRC has been researching barriers to a low carbon future which, according to a recent PwC Australia report, will exceed its estimated direct economic benefit to the Australian economy of $684 million by 2027.

“We aimed to save 10 megatonnes of CO2 emissions cumulatively by 2020, but we will have exceeded that target by next year,” says Scientia Professor Deo Prasad AO, CEO of the CRCLCL.

By focusing on how research is adopted into policy, as well as conducting basic research, the CRC has managed to achieve real change — most notably, updating the National Construction Code.

“Traditionally, the National Construction Code has eliminated worst practice,” says Prasad. “We want to move from this to encouraging best practice.”

Even small changes to building regulations could result in significant improvement in energy performance, according to the report, Built to Perform: An Industry Led Pathway to a Zero Carbon Ready Building Code, prepared by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia, and funded by the CRCLCL.

The report found that households could save $900 a year if new homes were built to better standards. Some changes, such as choosing a dark coloured roof instead of a light one, cost nothing, while others, such as improved insulation, will increase building costs in the short term, but result in massive savings in energy bills over the long term.

“Stronger energy standards for new buildings could reduce energy bills by up to $29 billion between now and 2050,” says Prasad.

This research has provided the solid evidence required for regulatory change and has helped to inform the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia, says ASBEC executive director Suzanne Toumbourou. “There is now a COAG-level commitment to a trajectory for low energy and carbon buildings,” she says.

Prasad says providing this level of certainty can help the construction industry to prepare itself for future changes. However, just ensuring buildings are energy efficient isn’t sufficient to make cities more comfortable as climate change pushes temperatures higher. The way we plan and design cities can also impact temperatures, thanks to the ‘urban heat island’ effect.

Prasad says cities can be made cooler by using vegetation, landscape materials, water bodies and cool materials.

To find out which approaches are most cost effective, the CRCLCL developed Australia’s first Guide to Urban Cooling Strategies. This 2017 report is now guiding the redevelopment of the Parramatta CBD in Western Sydney, where temperatures can be six to 10 degrees Celsius hotter than coastal areas.

“In the future, we will need a more holistic look at cities, not only at sustainability and low carbon, but also how we can build resilience over the long term,” says Prasad.

Rebecca Blackburn

lowcarbonlivingcrc.com.au

This article was published in KnowHow Issue 9.

Testing zero-energy homes

Featured image credit: D-Max Photography

The CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) has announced $500,000 in funding for a new national zero-energy homes project. The project will research consumer attitudes and aim to influence the building industry to construct new dwellings to zero-energy standards.

At present the energy efficiency of a home is measured according to the Nationwide House Energy Rating System (NatHERS). This star rating system measures the energy required to heat and cool a home, with new buildings being required to meet a minimum six-star rating.

Zero-energy homes, on the other hand, are homes that are carbon neutral across the year – they produce as much (or more) energy than they consume. All aspects of energy consumption are accounted for – not just heating and cooling, but also lighting, appliances and so on.

Project lead Dr Josh Byrne, senior research fellow with Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute, believes that the current six-star requirement is merely “eliminating worst practice”. He has built two 10-star rated homes as part of his project, Josh’s House, which was part of the CRCLCL’s Living Labs project near Fremantle in Western Australia. Now he’s keen to bring zero-energy homes into the mainstream.

“It’s not just about bunging on more solar panels to offset the power usage, it’s about how the houses can be designed to perform better thermally,” Byrne says. “We know that simple things like orientation, cross-ventilation, and building air tightness can all dramatically reduce the build performance.”

The project team will be working with developers and builders from three different climate areas – WA, the ACT and Queensland – to design and build zero-energy display homes and present them alongside conventional homes to gauge the response from consumers. Instead of focusing on the sustainability benefits, they want to see how the public thinks zero-energy homes stack up on liveability. “We’re really interested in seeing how people respond to the look, feel and comfort of the zero-energy homes,” Byrne says.

The researchers will then present this data to the regulatory bodies, in the hope that an evidence-based approach will help shift the common perceptions that sustainable building practices are too costly and that there is no market demand for these homes.

With 100,000 new homes being built in Australia each year, moving to zero-energy homes would reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tonnes. California has committed to achieving this by 2020, and members of the European Union are doing the same. Byrne thinks it’s more than possible here. “I would like to see us setting a realistic goal of achieving that within 10 years,” he says.

Find out more at LOWCARBONLIVINGCRC.COM.AU

Read more CRC discovery in KnowHow 2017

low carbon

First low carbon finder app

In an Australian first, the tourism business community in the Blue Mountains has proved that a low carbon future for businesses and users is possible, with the launch today of one of the most extensively researched low carbon regional programs.

The Blue Mountains Low Carbon Living program released its website and web app designed to support and promote businesses that have reduced their carbon footprint and at the same time provide residents and visitors an opportunity to reduce theirs by choosing low carbon services.

Of 200 Blue Mountains visitors and 100 residents surveyed in April 2016 regarding their own carbon footprint,  94% said they were concerned and 85% said they were prepared to choose business services with a low carbon footprint.  Nearly 70% also said they would use a website or app that identified local businesses that had achieved reduction ratings to make their choice.

Funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL), the new web and app program can be easily transferred to other communities and is set to be taken up by other regions in NSW and nationally.

CRCLCL project leader and Executive Director of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute (BMWHI) Dr John Merson says the audit techniques developed for the 30 local businesses in the pilot program, along with the rating scheme and website were designed to be easily transferrable to other communities.

“Overall our audits reviewed the business’ energy, water and waste usage, advised on how to be more efficient in using carbon based resources,  then assessed what they had done and calculated the carbon reduction.  From this we provided a gold, silver or bronze rating for the website,” says Merson.

“Some businesses have achieved up to 15% carbon reductions in one year with many having further plans to increase this figure by adding more solar or introducing water recycling, for example.

“Businesses involved in the project include hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, cafes plus transport and activity providers.  Their incentive to be involved is that by lowering their carbon footprint they will attract more customers who in turn seek to lower their own footprint by using low carbon services. 

“The website is ultimately a way of promoting the businesses’ carbon reduction achievements and at the same time providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to support them.”

One local business given a gold rating – Silvermere Guest House – have  not only reduced their energy use through solar systems, but also their potable water use by around 40% through a variety of recommended water saving initiatives. They are planning further energy savings over the next 12 months including the introduction of a solar powered robotic lawn mower. 

“Our plans include increasing the number of solar panels and purchasing a rechargeable robot lawn mower to replace the current petrol burning mowers,” says owner Cathy.

According to CRCLCL CEO Professor Deo Prasad, worldwide tourism accounts for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions and makes up 5.6% of Australia’s emissions so the new website and app package was a significant achievement.

“Now we have a proven low carbon audit system, website and app package available through this project, more business communities and carbon emission conscious individuals in Australia and around the world can benefit as it is rolled out and further developed,” says Prasad.

“We are very pleased with what this project has achieved and what it has to offer for a low carbon future.” 

Today’s launch was held in Katoomba and included a variety of presentations from local business leaders and researchers.

This information was first shared by the Low Carbon Living CRC on 26 May 2016.

carbon industry

The new carbon industry

The Paris 2015 agreement presented cities with a global challenge. “Buildings and cities contribute upwards of 40% of global carbon emissions,” says Professor Deo Prasad, CEO of the Low Carbon Living CRC (CRCLCL).

Leveraging the knowledge of researchers from the CSIRO and five of Australia’s top universities, as well as experts in the field, the CRCLCL is heading up efforts to deliver a low carbon built environment in Australia. Its ambitious aim is to cut residential and commercial carbon emissions by 10 megatonnes by 2020.

“The CRCLCL is at the forefront of driving technological and social innovation in the built environment to reduce carbon emissions,” says Prasad.

Recognised as a world-leading research organisation by the United Nations Environment Programme, the CRCLCL collaborates with industry partners like AECOM and BlueScope, and universities and governments.

“We’re looking to bring emissions down, and in the process we want to ensure global competitiveness for Australian industry by helping to develop the next generation of products, technologies, advanced manufacturing and consulting services,” says Prasad.

CRCLCL activities range from urban sustainable design and solar energy to software and community engagement.

“By working effectively with government, researchers and industry, we employ an ‘end-user’ driven approach to research that maximises uptake and utilisation,” says Prasad.

– Carl Williams

lowcarbonlivingcrc.com.au