In order to impact policy and endorsement of renewable energy infrastructure, the benefits must outweigh the costs. The Research Node for Low Carbon Living has analysed the benefits and value propositions of the Lochiel Park precinct and how it may impact State Government policy and planning.

Research Projects

  • The value proposition of low carbon housing to government minus-thick plus-thick

    From the evidence available the Government as investor would expect to achieve multiple policy outcomes across areas as diverse as health and wellbeing, productivity, energy, as well as the public budget.  From a macro-economic perspective, although many impacts were not able to be monetised with sufficient confidence, the Government investor will experience a net increase in local employment, downward pressure on energy prices, and increased economic activity within a more efficient economy better able to respond to world energy price increases.

    This report concludes that the value proposition of low carbon living is overwhelmingly positive to the South Australian Government with a conservative NPV of $1.31 billion for a 10 year policy action, and a benefit/cost ratio of 2.42.  The empirical evidence demonstrates that low carbon living will provide many benefits including improved energy efficiency, energy network infrastructure savings, improved human health and wellbeing, carbon emission reductions, and benefits from increased social capital.  The benefits far outweigh the costs associated with creating low carbon housing.

    The report highlights the importance of industry learning.  As the housing industry adopts new technologies and practices, increases low carbon building system production volumes, improves industrial processes, and develops skills and knowledge across the various building industry professions, the net economic benefits to the community increase. Given the limitations of the data, the value proposition for low carbon living from the perspective of Government is overwhelmingly positive in Australia’s most populous warm temperate climate zone.

    Berry S., Davidson K. (2015) ‘Value Proposition: Low Carbon Housing Policy’, CRC for Low Carbon Living, Sydney, Australia

  • The implications of mandating photovoltaics on all new homes minus-thick plus-thick


    The transition to near zero energy and near zero carbon homes places the policy focus firmly on the widespread application of renewable energy technologies by the mainstream building industry.  This systemic change from 

    typical business practices for house design and construction to embrace the application of photovoltaic technology is likely to come with significant risk to policy outcomes. 

    Using evidence drawn from the Lochiel Park housing estate in Australia, the use of prescriptive building energy regulations to facilitate the application of photovoltaics may not deliver the expected policy outcome, and better policy outcomes are likely from applying a performance based standard.  Lessons learnt from Australia point to issues related to regulatory design, industry training, and compliance assessment.  Addressing these issues will be essential to achieve low carbon policy intentions.

    Graph: Solar energy portion of total monthly use

    Berry S., Whaley D. (2015) 'The implications of mandating photovoltaics on all new homes.' International Conference on Sustainability in Energy and Buildings, Lisbon, Portugal

  • Zero energy and zero carbon housing standards minus-thick plus-thick

    The development of a framework for defining net zero energy and net zero carbon homes has seen significant progress over the past decade.  With anthropogenic climate change the principal driver, numerous governments are moving to regulate homes at or near a net zero energy or net zero carbon performance level.  For example, the South Australian Government established design guidelines for the Lochiel Park Green Village to approximate a net zero energy standard.  What has been missing in the literature is a discussion of how the basic principles of performance-based building regulation will shape the definition.  The very nature of performance-based regulation as a legally contestable instrument shapes and limits the content of a regulatory definition.

    This paper examines the recent literature on zero energy and zero carbon building definition frameworks, explores the key characteristics of performance-based standards, and determines practical definitions that could be adopted within performance-based building codes.

    Berry S., Davidson K., Saman W. (2013). 'Defining zero carbon and zero energy homes from a performance-based regulatory perspective', Energy Efficiency, Vol. 7, doi: 10.1007/s12053-013-9225-7