The Carbon Tax : Friend or Foe?

Many Australian families are understandably concerned about how much impact the carbon tax will have on their households, particularly when it comes to the cost of building a new home. Some housing and construction industry lobby groups continue to claim that the carbon tax will increase the cost of an average new home by over $6,000, but we’re not so sure.

One of our co-founders Richard has done the figures himself and thinks the cost is more likely to around $2,000 for the average Australian home, or possibly even less.

“Based on the available data, the average 3×2 brick veneer home in Australia creates around 80 metric tons of carbon due to its construction, operation and maintenance over its entire design life,” says Richard.

“If the proposed carbon price is to be $23 per ton of carbon, this equates to only around $1,840 as an additional cost for the average new home due to the carbon tax. The extra cost may not even be as high as that as many trade exposed industries such as cement, steel, aluminium and glassmaking qualify for up to a 94.5% shielding from the tax. The end cost to someone building a new home may only be around $100 for the average Australian home.”

Whatever the size of your project, there are lots of easy, cost effective ways to reduce the amount of embodied carbon and energy created by building a new home. “For example, you could specify fly-ash as a substitute for cement in concrete, which would significantly reduce the embodied carbon of a new home. There are a number of cost effective, low carbon building materials available on the market by making smart choices, the carbon tax will have a negligible cost impact on the construction of new homes,” says Richard.

Sid, our resident architect and managing director says that selecting low carbon materials is just the first step in preparing for a low carbon economy. “We should also be designing our homes so they require less energy for heating and cooling, have optimum orientation for solar hot water and solar PV, and be selecting energy efficient lighting and appliances. All of which will reduce our energy consumption and carbon production without compromising our lifestyle.”

But it’s important to start early and consider intelligent design at the planning stage as Sid explains, “these strategies are easy to integrate in the early design stages of a project, and will also create homes that are more enjoyable to live in and that will grow in value as home buyers increasingly recognise these as desirable design features.”

Both Richard and Sid argue that the housing and construction industry need to embrace this as an opportunity for innovation and excellence in the design and construction of new homes. “The transition to a low carbon economy is inevitable for all countries if we are to minimise the impact of dangerous climate change,” says Richard. “Prospective home buyers are becoming increasingly savvy about the design possibilities, and want to minimise their impact on the environment. This represents a fantastic opportunity for home building companies all around Australia.”

What do you think about the new carbon tax? Join the discussion on our Facebook page

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