With Victoria’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions among the highest in the world, temperature-related death and illness increasing, and energy costs rising, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is helping to build the resilience of vulnerable households to face the impacts of the changing climate.
The Energy Efficiency and Climate Resilience in Vulnerable Households Initiative will see the Foundation support energy upgrade programs; influence local, state and commonwealth policies, regulations and codes; as well as undertake research to better understand energy poverty, temperature-related risks, and ways to reduce residential greenhouse gas emissions.
Low-income individuals with pre-existing health conditions are particularly at risk of temperature-related health impacts and are the focus of the Foundation’s initial support of an energy upgrade program for vulnerable households being developed with the Brotherhood of St. Lawrence.
The program aims to reduce the typical costs of implementation, incurred by site-specific audits and retrofits, by instead utilising existing service providers, corporate discounts, state government subsidies and a small range of effective energy upgrades.
Vulnerable households will benefit from reduced risks associated with both extreme heat and extended cold as well as access to support services during periods where temperature-related risks may be heightened. In addition reduced utility costs, will help to alleviate financial pressures, while minimising greenhouse gas emissions.
The Foundation is also focused on assisting the community housing sector and is supporting a collaborative project between Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic) and Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV).
This project will see CHIA Vic provide AHV with free energy assessments of their properties; business cases for solar and other energy efficiency measures; competitive procurement through a pre-qualified panel of suppliers to undertake the work; and links to funding sources.
At least 200 properties are expected to benefit from these assessments and that the project will support the Aboriginal Co-operatives to access Victorian Government grants and rebates to implement energy retrofit solutions.
The Foundation is working to improve the energy efficiency and climate resilience of vulnerable households by influencing relevant local, state and commonwealth policies, regulations and codes.
Currently, the Foundation is supporting Renew to build a national coalition of more than 65 social, health and environment groups to help raise the energy performance of Australian homes, resulting in better-designed, low-emission housing that is more resilient to the changing climate and will reduce utility costs and improve the health of residents.
In just over 12 months, they have made significant progress, including relevant State and National Ministers agreeing to the development of enhanced energy efficiency provisions for new residential buildings in the National Construction Code 2022.
Over the next two years Renew will continue to lead engagement with the National Construction Code policy process and deliver a consumer-focused campaign that highlights the risks of poor-quality housing during Australia’s increasing number of heatwaves.
The Foundation is undertaking research to better understand energy poverty, temperature-related risks, residential greenhouse gas emissions and measures to reduce them.
As part of this initiative, the Foundation is supporting the University of Technology Sydney to determine the effect of extreme weather on mortality and health care service use. The research is identifying those who are most at risk, as well as quantifying the extent to which extreme weather leads to higher health care demand and costs. This will help inform the design of targeted programs that protect vulnerable populations from extreme weather.
An initial component of the research has found that extreme heat is a far greater threat for most Australians than extreme cold weather, with the risks falling largely on the elderly. This is an important revelation, as historically governments have focused primarily on winter-related health impacts.