So what happened after we discussed enoughness on the Undercover Architect podcast?
Well, I received A LOT of feedback. Some positive, but not all.
I share more in this episode of the podcast, plus some of the other big ideas I’m professionally and personally grappling with when it comes to building and renovating family homes.
Hello! This is Episode 243, and in it, I’m going to be talking about what’s been happening over the past couple of months, especially since discussing enoughness on the podcast.
Over the past few months on the podcast, I’ve been sharing content and people who are focused on sustainable design, sustainable building materials and generally building less, but better.
And over the past few months, I’ve also had some amazing conversations off the podcast, with podcast listeners, fellow professionals, and HOME Method members about what we’ve been talking about here.
In fact, my inbox has never received as many messages about the podcast content as it has over the past few months. Mostly positive. However, not all of it has been positive. Some of the content has been super challenging for some listeners.
So, I want to talk about this in this episode, plus share some of the other things I’ve been learning over the past few months as I’ve been mulling over with how we have some bigger conversations here at Undercover Architect.
This episode took a while to pull together. It’s tricky to formulate my thoughts on this, as they’re still a work in progress. So I hope you’ll be patient with me.
Now, let’s dive in.
I’m going to kick off this podcast conversation by sharing some statistics and info with you I’ve been learning and reading about lately. And to give you some timing context in case you’re not listening to this episode at the time of its release, it’s late June, 2022.
The Housing Industry Association, or HIA, released a bunch of statistics alongside their Federal Election Imperatives in the leadup to the 2022 federal election. These included information such as this:
- There was over $108.1 billion dollars of residential building work done in Australia in 2020/21
- Over the last 10 years the housing industry built over 1.86 million homes.
- Australia will need to build over 1.88 million new homes by 2031
- And for context, Australia has around 10.72 million homes in total.
The United Nations Environment Program website includes information about the state of the building and construction sector. It quotes The Global Status Report 2017, from the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, which finds that the sector continues to grow.
It claims that globally, the equivalent of Paris is added in new building every 5 days.
And over the next 40 years, 230 billion m2 of additional buildings will be constructed – the equivalent of adding the floor area of Japan to the planet every single year to 2060.
Our desire to build, and keep building, is not slowing down. Even with the supply chain issues, and even with the rising costs and other challenges we’re experiencing.
What does this mean for the environment?
Well, The Footprint Company, an organisation that helps industry professionals with carbon calculations of the embodied and operational energy in the projects they’re designing, states that the property and development industry drives over 50% of annual global carbon emissions.
And, they believe that 50% of the climate change challenge is solved by reducing the embodied carbon intensity of all buildings by half, by 2030.
Which means moving to net zero carbon projects as quickly as possible.
What’s interesting about this, is that it gives us a chance to think about embodied energy in our homes in a big way, knowing it will have an impact.
This is different to the big, and generally successful push we’ve had in improving energy efficiency over the past decade or so.
Because energy efficiency has definitely been the focus for residential construction.
This type of focus in the industry has helped us believe that you can build whatever you want, as much as you want, but just ensure you achieve energy efficiency and you’re seen as doing your bit.
This focus on energy efficiency has been about operational energy, and has not taken into account the embodied energy … or the energy it takes to physically create and transport all the materials, products and people involved in bringing lines on a page to reality as a finished home.
And the industry is rapidly acknowledging that this singular focus on energy efficiency is not sufficient to achieve the benchmarks of lowering carbon emissions required for 2030 and 2050 targets.
Embodied energy has already been in the conversation and calculations for large public and commercial projects, and is now starting to land on the shoulders of the individual homeowner as something to be aware of as well.
And interestingly, I’ve got some HOME Method members deliberately choosing products and materials that are low carbon, as they’ve set it as their priority for product selection in their projects.
The embodied energy of the construction industry here is massive.
And the exciting thing about that, is that it provides us with an equally massive opportunity to make a big difference through the choices we make in how we build and renovate.
And as we decarbonise the electricity grid through sourcing more of our operational energy from renewable sources, the embodied energy or embodied carbon will become an even greater proportion of the overall carbon footprint of a project.
Far too often, I know that homeowners think “It’s just my house, and compared to all the other building going on elsewhere, it’s not going to make that much of a difference.”
This just isn’t the case though. Housing and the way we build and renovate it, makes a massive difference.
Unfortunately in Australia, the industry is so geared to the way volume builders design and build, and that’s why it’s not part of our regular conversation. Because any change like this is a massive undertaking for them.
However, as these regulatory changes come in, and we start seeing things like carbon taxes being legislated in countries overseas, it’ll become more and more necessary to consider these things as part of creating your future home.
So what do we do about it?
As individuals building and renovating our own homes, what do we do about it?
That’s just one of the things I discuss in this prickly and uncomfortable podcast episode.
Listen to the episode now.
Embodied Carbon and Embodied Energy in Australia’s Buildings >>> Read Green Building Council Australia’s Report
Article: A New Way for the Housebuilding Industry to Look at Embodied Carbon >>> Read more here
Natural Resources Canada “Achieving Real Net Zero Emissions Homes”, prepared by Builders for Climate Action >>> Read the Report
Pay the Rent Victoria >>> Website
Homes For Homes >>> Website
Nightingale Housing Project RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan)
Access my free “Your Project Plan” online workshop and awesome bonuses now >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/projectplan
Access the support and guidance you need to be confident and empowered when renovating and building your family home inside my flagship online program >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/courses/the-home-method/