Low-income families in regional NSW will soon be enjoying 7-star solar-powered community housing thanks to a new agreement.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will invest up to $95 million to help Housing Plus develop 220 new community houses using technology which is highly energy efficient.
Housing Plus is one of the largest providers of NSW regional community housing. It will also retrofit some existing homes with rooftop solar energy and technology like battery storage, heat pumps and smart appliances, as well as insulation to provide protection against weather extremes.
NatHERS benchmark for Australian homes
All solar-powered community housing homes will be built to a minimum 7-star Nationwide House Energy Rating System (NatHERS) standard. This delivers close to a 40 per cent improvement on homes built to the current minimum standard.
NatHERS promotes good insulation and solar passive design to reduce the need for heating and cooling. It also encourages solar batteries, double glazing, smart meters, LED lights and smart white goods.
The federal Department of the Environment and Energy manages NatHERS on behalf of Australian states and territories.
Community housing and welfare organisations around the country are calling for the NatHERS standard to be mandatory in new community dwellings, the CEFC says.
Solar-powered community housing booms in Sydney
Australian households produce around 12 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Most of this relates to heating, cooling, lighting and hot water systems.
The CEFC is also investing funds to boost energy efficiency in Sydney’s community housing.
The funding organisation has committed up to $170 million to St George Community Housing (SGCH). This will help SGCH deliver 500 new NatHERS standard homes in south and south-western Sydney. In addition, it will also retrofit 4,000 existing properties.
Low-income families part of solar uptake
That’s according to Solar Citizens research, which shows solar panels are proportionally more common on the rooftops of low-to-middle income Australians.
In 2018 a study by the University of Technology Sydney also showed solar gardens could knock hundreds of dollars off annual electricity bills for tenants.
Solar gardens also allow tenants and apartment dwellers to buy a share of panels in a centralised solar power system.