ACT energy assessors will need to meet tougher requirements under amended legislation passed this month. The ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) will have greater power to enforce high standards, such as introducing an education requirement, and taking disciplinary action on poor those falling short of the standards.

The number of house ratings audited by the ACTPLA will also increase 5%. The change aims to improve safety and consumer confidence in energy efficiency. Planning Minister Andrew Barr commented recently on the changes.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge the Canberra community and all Australians face,” Mr Barr said. “That’s why ACT Labor is working with industry and the community to ensure Canberra continues to develop in a more sustainable way.”

“Because household energy use generates such a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, and because factors such as design, solar orientation and urban density play a role in reducing these, making housing more energy efficient is a major focus for our community. These new laws will help ensure a higher level of professionalism in the way energy assessors work. They will also deliver more certainty for people considering energy efficiency when buying or building a new home.”

Labor’s Construction Occupations Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 requires that assessors be licensed, and allows the ACT Planning and Land Authority to be able to require assessors to undertake further education or take disciplinary action against assessors where their work is found to be not up to scratch.

This will be matched with more auditing, with ACTPLA set to significantly increase the number of ratings audited each year up to 5 per cent.

“We have already adopted the Building Code of Australia’s 6 star energy rating equivalence and we are consulting the community on planning changes that will make up to 95% of new housing blocks solar orientated,” Mar Barr said. “This is part of our drive to ensure our community has access to the most sustainable housing possible. That’s why it’s so important that energy assessments are of consistently high quality.”

Mr Barr said housing design and solar orientation are just part of the factors that make a hone energy efficient.

“Everything from how people use heaters, air conditioners and lights to how large and far from work and public transport a home is all contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions, energy and fuel bills of a household,” Mr Barr said. “ACT Labor will work with the community and industry to continue to explore opportunities in all these areas to ensure the sustained development and growth of Canberra.”