Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings

On 1 February 2019 Energy Ministers agreed the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings, a national plan that sets a trajectory towards zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings for Australia.

Source: COAG Energy Council

The Trajectory identifies opportunities for the building sector in the context of a broader trajectory for the sector, and in summary proposes:

  • Setting a trajectory towards zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings
  • Implementing cost effective increases to the energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code (NCC) for residential and commercial buildings from 2022
  • Considering options for improving existing buildings in late 2019.

The Trajectory, and its underlying reports, seek to inform the future activities of the Building Ministers’ Forum and the Australian Building Codes Board when developing and implementing updates to the NCC, and to inform further Energy Council activities around building policy measures.


On 22 November 2019 Energy Ministers agreed to the Addendum to the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings – Existing Buildings.

The Trajectory Addendum is the second stage of the national plan for a trajectory towards zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings for Australia. It provides a suite of initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings in Australia, and in summary proposes:

  • Developing information, training and energy rating tools for households and businesses to enable greater understanding of energy efficiency options and applications.
  • Developing and expanding targeted building policies, including disclosure of energy performance, minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties, renovations and refurbishments, improving heating, ventilation and cooling, and energy productivity in government operations.
  • Identifying and developing supporting measures, including specific measures for strata titled buildings, financial initiatives, appliance standards and labelling, specific measures for vulnerable households, a national dataset and collection process for existing homes, and other targeted initiatives.

The Trajectory is the start of a longer process and improving existing buildings will take time. In commencing this process and conducting analysis for the report, it became apparent that a key challenge for assessing different policies is the data available for, and our understanding of, existing buildings. Going forward, there is therefore a need to strengthen:

  • The bringing together of data on existing buildings into a national dataset.
  • Definitions of existing building subsets through the adoption of a segmentation approach with areas of key focus. Unlike new buildings, which are not yet built and do not have occupants, improving existing buildings requires consideration of a greater variation in building types along with the demographics of the occupants. An example of how this could be strengthened, is to use case studies to define the different building types and demographic segments.

Despite the challenges, the scale of opportunity is significant. There are more than nine million existing homes in Australia. The majority of these rate below 3 stars* under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). This large number of homes with poor energy efficiency provides a significant opportunity for improvement.  Increasing the energy efficiency of existing homes will lower energy bills for households, contribute to energy security and affordability and reduce carbon emissions. It will also improve the comfort and health of households, save energy, reduce wastage for the wider economy, and assist in mitigating the risk of blackouts by lowering peak demand.

The Trajectory and the Trajectory Addendum were developed closely with stakeholders to outline policies that deliver cost effective energy efficiency improvements to homes and businesses that lower energy.


* Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 2019, Energy Rating—National Overview