World-first resilience and energy efficiency ratings assessor program to help create climate-adapted NSW houses
The Bushfire Building Council of Australia (BBCA) has today announced a new program to measurably improve the disaster resilience and energy efficiency of NSW houses, thanks to joint funding from the NSW and Australian governments.
The Disaster Resilience and Energy Efficiency Ratings assessor program will create a single professional house assessment and integrated recommendations and ratings certification capability for bushfire, storm, flood, cyclone, heatwave, thermal comfort and energy efficiency.
Program lead and BBCA CEO Kate Cotter says the world-first project will bring together the best available science to help households adapt new and existing homes for disaster resilience, comfort and reduced energy use.
“Adapting the built environment is a key component of empowered, resilient, sustainable, thriving communities. This program brings the country’s leading independent experts together to better connect energy efficiency and disaster resilience measures, build expertise and capability, and provide practical support that will help break the avoidable disaster cycle so many are now facing,” Ms Cotter said.
Launching in 2024, the program will deliver:
– A rating system for assessing disaster resilience, energy efficiency and thermal comfort of new and existing houses.
– A professional assessment and rating certification program including new building assessment software, assessor recruitment, training and accreditation.
– Practical information to empower NSW households to improve the disaster resilience and energy efficiency of their houses, through customised retrofit actions specific to individual properties and local risks.
– Engagement with industry and government to develop incentives for households to adapt their homes, recognising that reducing disaster risk and energy use generates significant social and economic value.
NSW residents have been facing more frequent and severe climate induced disaster impacts, with cost of disasters in NSW now estimated to be $372 billion between 2020 – 2060 or an average of $9.3 billion in direct economic losses per year. Meanwhile, it is estimated that 90% of existing houses are not climate-adapted.
“There is hope, and there are practical solutions for every household. Customised retrofit recommendations will help empower households with information about the most effective and efficient actions they can take. The scientific ratings have been developed by the country’s leading resilience and sustainability experts, ensuring community trust and confidence.”
“We are very excited to be collaborating with communities, governments and industry to get on with the job of accelerating adaptation action, there’s no time to waste,” Ms Cotter said.
The Disaster Resilience and Energy Efficiency Ratings assessor program has been made possible thanks to $2.2M in funding from the joint Australian Government – NSW Government National Partnership Agreement on Disaster Risk Reduction. Once launched in NSW, the program will also be made available to all states and territories.
In addition to building assessment capability and providing practical information to households, the program also aims to provide industry, governments, property markets and financial markets with a trusted, scientific, independent measure of a building’s resilience and energy efficiency, creating a platform for incentives that support private investment in risk reduction.
Program partners include James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station, University of Wollongong Sustainable Buildings Research Centre, Insurance Council of Australia, NSW Office of Energy and Climate Change, Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Shoalhaven City Council, and JDA Co architects.
The program builds on and complements other BBCA projects funded by the Australian Government and supported by industry sponsors BlueScope Steel, IAG and NAB, including the national Bushfire Resilience Rating system and home assessment app launching next year, and FORTIS House, free disaster resilient house designs and building guides.
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About the Bushfire Building Council of Australia (BBCA)
The Bushfire Building Council of Australia is a not-for-profit network of independent experts working to improve resilience and reduce the impacts of disasters on communities. Members of the BBCA include research scientists and architects, civil, structural and fire safety engineers and risk management specialists. Learn more about the BBCA team.
Please note: Although funding for this product has been provided by both the Australian Government and NSW Government, the material contained herein does not necessarily represent the views of either government.
 Special report: Update to the economic costs of natural disasters in Australia, Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities, 2021, Report available here.
Comments from program partners:
James Cook University – Cyclone Testing Station (JCU CTS)
“Our mission is to reduce the loss and suffering of communities by providing practical, tailored, actionable education to households to reduce the impacts of severe weather effects on homes, through initiatives such as the JCU Resilience Residence tool and developing the Cyclone Resilient Building Guidance for Queensland Homes. Many residents are facing multiple hazards and conflicting information from energy assessments, so we’re looking forward to reconciling these issues to provide clarity for communities, industry and governments.” – Patrick Driscoll, Director JCU CTS
University of Wollongong Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (UOW SBRC)
“The design and retrofit of buildings will play a key role in how we address the twin challenges of rapid decarbonisation and the fostering of improved disaster resilience. The transformation of our built environment into sustainable, resilient places to live and work is our central focus at the SBRC, and this project will enable homeowners to take effective action at home.”
– Dr Alan Green, Research Fellow, UOW SBRC
Shoalhaven City Council
“The tragedy that unfolded in Shoalhaven City during the 2019-2020 bushfires, and following that, extreme floods, is something that we had never experienced before. Only a commitment to do things differently from all levels of government, industry and the community, will help us change how future catastrophes will impact us. This project is the first step in changing the story for our communities, making them resilient, adapted and ready to face an uncertain future climate.” – Mayor Amanda Findley, Shoalhaven City Council
JDA Co – resilient architecture experts
“In just a few years, Australia has experienced both major flood and bushfire events, and these will only occur with more frequency with the effects of climate change. JDA Co. has devoted over a decade of research and built work to climate adaptation, as we believe climate-resilient architecture has a crucial role to play in helping communities prepare for, survive, and recover from natural disasters. We’re delighted to provide our expertise to contribute to this critical project, which will assist homeowners in making well-informed choices regarding disaster resilient and energy efficient construction, retrofitting, materials choices, landscaping and maintenance.” – James Davidson, Founder and Principal, JDA Co
Insurance Council of Australia (ICA)
“Without increased funding to make Australian homes, businesses and communities more resilient to worsening extreme weather, coupled with a change in approach to what we build and where we build it, the risk profile of communities exposed to extreme weather will not change. Projects like the Disaster Resilience and Energy Efficiency Ratings tool are important examples of how to bolster resilience at the household level and better protect our communities in a changing climate.” – Andrew Hall, CEO, ICA