As of June 2015 BASIX has issued a new specification which all drawings must adhere to for the purposes of a NatHERS Thermal Comfort Simulation Assessment.

 

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

SUSTAINABLY SPEAKING - ISSUE #73

 

Dimitri Harakidas - ABSA Member Profile

 

Jack-of-all-trades finds inspiration by challenging the status quo

Dimitri Harakidas is not content with a single career. He has worked as a mechanical engineering manager, a mechanical design engineer, a sales person, an aircraft engine mechanic, coffee machines technician, and even had his own business as a roof plumber and building renovator.

 

“I have had exposure to a very broad set of industries throughout my life. I like to challenge myself by learning new skills constantly,” he says. “Life is an exciting and dynamic journey full of surprises.”

But he is perhaps most proud of his latest job: author.

 

“I am really proud of the eBook I self-published in April called ‘The 99’. It was a work of love and was simply a way to express my views about the status quo of the world – socially, economically and environmentally,” he says.

“By writing The 99, I had the opportunity to articulate opinions about the issues, but mainly the 99 choices – or challenges - we all have in order to make a positive change as individuals. Real change starts from within, and we need to change our ways first.”

 

Growing up in a family involved in the building industry and with a background as a mechanical engineering designer, Dimitri Harakidas says sustainable design came naturally to him.

He enjoys the challenge of winning over those who don’t appreciate the importance of efficiency.

“It is a lot of fun talking and ‘converting’ sceptic architects and building developers into seeing the sustainable wave as a positive one and at the end of the day, being sustainable means a much better bottom line in the medium to long term,” he says.

 

“By being involved in this field, I can directly impact, even in a small way, a positive drive towards a sustainable future that is more and more evident that our species must implement.

“A big factor hindering best practice sustainable design is the huge cost of land, specifically in metropolitan areas, which means that in many cases the available cash flow to build something special is limited. Clients in most cases are purely interested just to make it across the line in the cheapest way possible,” he says.

 

“Many people still think that ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’ automatically means really expensive, therefore some people don’t want to go there unless it’s absolutely necessary. Despite all that, there is still a shift towards sustainable, smart designs and many of the architects that I work with use a lot of smart techniques already.”

 

Dimitri believes that although flawed, energy efficiency policies in NSW are effective.

 

“BASIX as a scheme overall is really a good one. Nothing is ever going to be perfect and address all aspects of the ongoing issues, however by implementing BASIX, water and energy savings are made. Even if the scheme doesn’t deliver the promised figures in real life, the BASIX commitments still do make a huge positive impact both for the environment and the bottom line,” Dimitri says.

“I believe that the whole of Australia should have a uniform system just like BASIX considering we are the driest continent but the sunniest; we can save water by harvesting it and by using it wisely. We can produce our power on our rooftops and use it thriftily. Of course there are vested interests there, so I will not get into it here,” he says.

“Unfortunately we top energy and water usage per capita in the world, and that is definitely not something to be proud off.

“Mandatory energy disclosure to existing housing stock needs to be implemented at the very least, considering housing is worth a fortune these days, and a small added cost for a professional report that will enable the potential buyer/tenant foresee what the running costs will be,” he says.

 

Dimitri believes the scope for State and Federal governments to help people build better and more thermally efficient homes is “huge,” as part of broader policies to promote a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

“It is vital to ensure the future of the Renewable Energy Target, phase out coal mining, phase in investment in renewable energy schemes and projects, provide incentives for builders and developers by reducing or abolishing stamp duty taxes on 8 star or above housing,” he says, adding that we need to talk more about the “future prosperity of the country” which necessarily means “being sensible with consumption of all forms.”

 

“ABSA provides us with a platform that as assessors we can do our job professionally and uniformly. I have been involved with ABSA for four years now, and can see that overall is a progressive organisation and its focus is the continual establishment of the industry and its members and the enhancement and stability of the Building Sustainability Industry in Australia,” he says.

 

Dimitri is already thinking about his next big venture, aside from continuing to grow his own business, Australian Energy Efficiency Consulting.

 

“I recently met someone starting a Renewable Energy Cooperative in Australia and I am really excited about it and the positive impact that it will have. On that, I invite anyone who is interested in contributing towards its successful implementation.”

 

 

 

 

BASIX review – loads of support but usual suspects go on an on

Cameron Jewell | 10 September 2014

 

The NSW government quietly released public submissions to proposed changes to the Building Sustainability Index last month, which has recommended improving water and energy consumption targets for new houses and residential apartments.

Opposition came from the likely quarters of the industry, with Master Builders Association and the Housing Industry Association both opposing the move, along with a number of developers, including Meriton.

Councils, sustainable home builders and green bodies generally welcomed strengthening of targets, with many pushing for more to be done.

See our previous articles:

  • Getting the BASIX right in NSW will bring economic rewards

  • Critique of BASIX review hits the mainstream

 

Out of the 83 submissions received from individuals, councils, government agencies and industry stakeholders, most –57 per cent – supported the proposed changes, which will see energy and water efficiency in new homes by around 10 per cent for detached houses, attached houses and low-rise buildings, and five per cent for mid-rise building. A minority of 13 per cent opposed the changes, while 30 per cent did not state a position, but suggested amendments.

 

Of those with a stated opinion, 81 per cent were in favour.

As discussed in a previous article, a higher water target was a key issue, with many raising concerns that rainwater tanks of 8000 litres would be needed, and would be unwieldly for many properties.

 

What those in favour said

Australian Institute of Architects: “We support the new [BASIX] target proposed in the review, which we recognise as a pragmatic response to the current state of the housing construction industry, consumer sentiment and technological improvements over the last decade… In the Institute’s view, NSW needs to ramp up its commitment to energy efficiency through a commitment to zero carbon homes and complementary targets for commercial buildings and general industry emissions.”

 

Flow Systems: “Flow Systems welcomes NSW Planning & Infrastructure’s proposal for a BASIX 50 [50 per cent above NSW average benchmark] target. We believe the economic benefits exceed existing benefit-cost scenarios when water recycling is the key driver, not rainwater tanks.”

 

Green Building Council of Australia: “The GBCA supports these changes and believe they will have a greater impact upon reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment. With regards to the proposed increases to water efficiency targets and policy changes, the GBCA believes the changes will also have a considerable impact to reducing potable water use. As can be seen by the benefit–cost analysis completed by

 

The Allen Consulting Group, the proposed changes can result in increased water and energy efficiency, all the while delivering a benefit–cost ratio to the NSW economy of 1.64.”

Integreco: “We strongly support the increase of the targets for energy, water and thermal performance and believe they are technically and economically feasible. They will increase the dependence on passive and design principles (rather than “end of pipe” last minute, technology or product-based solutions that always increase costs) to minimise cost of implementation and therefore are likely to improve the efficiency of design and construction overall.”

 

Total Environment Centre: “We consider that the proposed reforms are generally worthwhile but are unambitious and should go much further. In particular, the targets for medium density dwellings – the majority of new housing stock – remain mediocre.”

 

Willoughby Council: “WCC generally supports any increase to the BASIX targets however the revised targets still appear to be too lenient.”

 

Against

Housing Industry Association: “The Benefit Cost Analysis prepared by the Allen Consulting Group fails to make out the case for changes to the BASIX targets. HIA has identified a number of matters that we believe are errors in the analysis… On this basis, it is not considered that the changes will meet NSW’s obligations under the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency, which requires a positive cost benefit… It is considered that at this point in time, the status quo of 40/40 targets should be retained to help give certainty to both industry and consumers.”

Integrity New Homes: “At a time when costs of construction are already being driven higher by a carbon tax, safety requirements and ever increasing council rules and regulations the construction industry does not need such hefty additional costs.”

 

Master Builders Association of NSW: “Increasing these targets will directly impact on housing affordability and provide little net benefit to improving water and energy efficiencies… This is not the right time for industry or consumers to implement the proposed changes.”

 

Meriton: “We applaud the efforts of the government in this area and recognise the substantial water/energy savings made through BASIX since implementation, however, we do not support the increase in targets. The fundamental basis for our opposition is associated with the respective increase in construction costs that ultimately passes on through to housing prices and that the BASIX system is already making significant contributions.”

 

Some concerns

The Property Council of Australia said it supported BASIX, but said the proposed changes would lead to “over-regulation”and would reduce flexibility for building innovation and design. It recommended a suite of alternative solutions to increase building sustainability.

 

Country councils like Albury appeared hesitant, saying there was a lack of detail available regarding costs to local communities, and a lack of consultation. The Allen report, it said, found costs of up to $8000 a dwelling in Wagga Wagga, with savings of only $7000 over properties’40-year lives.

 

Armidale, meanwhile, said changes hadn’t gone far enough. It said double glazing should be made mandatory in cold climates, and that the review should have been expanded to include passive design, solar access and building material considerations.

Read all the submissions.

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