World first Bushfire Resilience Star Rating project launched to help better protect Australian lives and properties
In the wake of the devastating Black Summer bushfires, the 2.2 million Australians who live in the highest bushfire risk areas have a new reason for hope thanks to a world-first project to increase bushfire resilience and protect lives and properties.
Developed by the Resilient Building Council (formerly Building Bushfire Council), the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating system aims to help households adapt their homes to make them more resilient to bushfire.
The Star Rating System will translate decades of scientific research into a clearly communicated action plan for any home, old or new. It is focused on empowering people to make informed decisions about their bushfire risk, and putting practical, evidence-based tools for improving bushfire safety in their hands.
The project has been made possible thanks to $3 million in funding from the Australian Government, and industry support from BlueScope, IAG and NAB. The national launch of the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating app is planned for 2023 when the app will be available for free to all Australians.
RBC CEO Kate Cotter said: “We estimate that at least 90 per cent of buildings in high bushfire risk areas are not resilient to bushfire, putting lives, homes and livelihoods at unacceptable risk.
“We have brought Australia’s leading bushfire scientists, engineers and industry together to give households a personalised, practical solution to adapt their homes.
“Resilient homes build sustainable communities and economies – making our nation stronger, safer and better prepared for the inevitable next disaster. We are very excited to get to work on real action and incentives for households.”
The Star Rating system is voluntary and customised. It will provide individuals with a tailored appraisal of their property’s bushfire risk via a self-assessment app, and a list of practical things they can do to make it more bushfire resilient. Developed by Australia’s leading bushfire experts, it takes a best practice and holistic approach to bushfire resilience that covers building, landscaping, and ongoing maintenance. The Star Rating system also has the potential to give insurers, banks and investors a framework for financing and rewarding bushfire resilience adaptations.
Funding is provided through the Australian Government’s National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA), who support national projects targeted at reducing the risk and impact of natural disasters on Australian communities.
“The Bushfire Resilience Star Rating system is an important initiative to help Australians understand their disaster risk and what they can do to reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards,” Michael Crawford, Executive Director of Disaster Risk Management at NRAA said.
“We can’t prevent natural hazards from occurring so reducing our vulnerability to those hazards is central to limiting the impact they can cause. The Star Rating self-assessment app will help put knowledge in the hands of all Australians to guide their risk reduction decisions.”
Former Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner and BBCA Expert Advisory Board Member, Craig Lapsley, said: “The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has recommended a national approach and urgent action to inform and reward household resilience.”
“After decades of inquiries and recommendations we are finally able to apply Australian science and technology to deliver practical action that will have global impact. This is a break- through moment and an exciting world-first project that will help protect lives and properties.”
For more information visit rbcouncil.org/resilience-ratings
About the Resilient Building Council (formerly Building Bushfire Council, BBCA)
The Resilient Building Council is a national, independent not-for-profit network of bushfire experts working to improve resilience and reduce the impacts of natural disasters on communities. Members of the Resilient Building Council include research scientists and architects, civil, structural and fire safety engineers and risk management specialists. The Resilient Building Council is backed by industry with major sponsors including BlueScope, IAG and NAB. rbcouncil.org/our-team
What does the project involve?
The RBC is facilitating a world-first project to accelerate the adaptation of the built environment through:
The development of the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating app, which will be available for free to all Australians in 2023.
Collaboration with government and industry to explore financing and rewarding bushfire resilience and adaptation.
How will the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating system work?
Using the app, households will enter their address to assess the risk of bushfire at that site.
Next, households are asked a series of questions about their home and landscaping.
A Star Rating (1 to 5 stars) is then provided for the property along with a tailored list of evidence-based, site-specific measures that will achieve a higher rating. For example, mitigation measures might relate to adapting a home’s roof, decking or garden to increase bushfire resilience.
Each additional Star Rating achieved because of changes that are made halves residual risk – creating a strong incentive for homeowners to take action.
The Star Rating and actions are only shared with the person completing the assessment. It is up to the household how they use or promote their rating.
Households will be encouraged to maintain their Star Rating through annual self-assessment. Industry and governments will be encouraged to provide incentives for the upgrade and maintenance of Star Rated property.
Comments from industry:
IAG Executive Manager Natural Perils, Mark Leplastrier said:
“As an insurer we witnessed the devastating impact of the Black Summer Bushfires firsthand as we helped our customers recover and rebuild. We’ve been working with the BBCA team over the last two years to input into the development of the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating system and we’re excited about its potential to improve understanding of bushfire risk, and to incentivise and support people to take actions to reduce and mitigate these risks.”
BlueScope Sustainability Manager, Philippa Stone said:
“BlueScope has supported bushfire relief and recovery efforts for many years, and we are delighted to be furthering our efforts by supporting improved bushfire resilience in Australia. The introduction of the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating system represents a significant step in addressing the bushfire resilience of Australian homes and communities. It empowers homeowners to take practical action, based on scientific evidence, including the careful selection of materials. Through our support of the Star Rating system, we hope to help strengthen our communities for the future.”
NAB Executive Personal Banking Rachel Slade said:
“The scale of the Black Summer Bushfires was devastating and left many Australians focusing on the recovery and rebuilding of homes and communities. Nine in ten of our customers who were impacted by the bushfires said they had not been offered support to prepare for a bushfire disaster. We recognise the critical role of preparing property for bushfires to avoid property loss while giving homeowners, business owners, farmers and communities clear practical actions to help them to prepare for and strengthen their resilience to bushfires. We are proud to support this initiative, which provides Australians a user-friendly way of understanding how to prepare for a bushfire.”