Credible and consistent information to help us factor potential running costs and environmental impacts in to what is generally our largest ever purchase decision – a home or investment property is not readily available in most states and territories. That is why the Council of Australian Governments committed to investigate the benefits and costs of implementing legislation which would require that energy, water and greenhouse gas information be disclosed when a property is placed on the market for sale or rent. There are a range of ways for such information to be assessed and provided from a full thermal assessment such as that currently operating in the ACT, to a simple checklist such as the one used in Queensland and several methods in between. A regulatory impact analysis on the different options has been conducted and is now available for public consultation. The findings of the consultation will be used to refine the analysis and guide the final decision on mandatory disclosure.
What will mandatory disclosure look like?
While it will be enabled through state and territory based legislation all governments will be working toward achieving consistency in the schemes, while still allowing for practical differences at the state and territory level. A Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) has been prepared through the Building Implementation Committee of the Energy Efficiency Working Group and approved for release by the Office of Best Practice regulation. The RIS models six options, covering the full range from technically-detailed assessment through to a checklist approach and a voluntary scheme. It also considers the options of disclosure at point of sale only versus point of sale and lease.
Options 1 to 4 and option 6 are regulatory options. This means that jurisdictions would implement legislation which required owners of residential properties to assess and disclose their property’s energy, greenhouse and water performance if the property was advertised for sale and/or lease.
- Option 1—full thermal assessment
This option would require a full thermal performance simulation based on the house floor plan and other building information. The assessment would need to be conducted by a suitably qualified assessor and would generate a rating for the home. This option provides the largest degree of information about the house’s performance and would provide a list of potential upgrades and recommendations.
- Option 2—simplified thermal assessment
This option is similar to Option 1 however does not require a floor plan for assessment. There is also less focus on the thermal performance components of the building during assessment and the upgrade recommendations. This option would provide less accurate information on the thermal components of a building’s performance but potentially be a faster and lower cost assessment than option 1. This option would also provide a list of potential upgrades and recommendations.
- Option 3—online self-assessment.
This option uses an online tool which makes assumptions about a building’s performance based on data entered about the building’s components. The owner could choose to self-assess their building or request that the assessment be undertaken by a qualified assessor. This option would be less complex and the potential upgrade recommendations would be more general and less customised for each particular dwelling.
- Option 4—checklist assessment.
This option would require the homeowner (or a nominated assessor) to disclose the energy and water saving features found in the dwelling at the point of advertising. Given this approach, no overall rating would be generated. Improvement recommendations would result from those features that are not currently ticked on the checklist.
- Option 6 – mandatory rating with an optout feature
Option 6 discuses an opt-out feature which would allow home owners to opt-out of undertaking an assessment and have their homes accordingly rated at 0.
- Option 5—voluntary uptake
This option is a non-regulatory option where government could conduct a public awareness raising program encouraging people to improve the energy, water and greenhouse performance of their buildings. It could include a voluntary checklist similar to that used in Option 4 and promote the use of assessors and assessment tools.
What happens next?
Following the consultation period the Australian, state and territory governments will consider all stakeholder feedback and develop recommendations on the final form of the scheme(s). A decision regulatory impact statement will then be prepared and will need to be approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation before being considered by COAG’s Ministerial Council on Energy. As the measure will be implemented through state and territory legislation, the actual date for commencement of individual state and territory schemes is a matter for those governments to decide.