- Jason Dowling
- The Age, September 20, 2008
VICTORIA must start planning for sea level rises of two metres that will swamp coastal housing and industry, a former planning minister has warned.
Tom Roper, Victoria's planning and environment minister from 1987-1990, will tell the World Sustainable Building Conference beginning in Melbourne tomorrow that a rapid acceleration in planning decisions to combat climate change is needed.
Mr Roper, a board member of the Washington-based Climate Institute, told The Age:
■ Victoria had to plan for a two-metre sea level rise and "if it's less than that, we can all be thankful". "I don't think, certainly in Australia, we have thought through what up to two metres of sea level rise will actually means in terms of our major cities".
■ Docklands had been developed "without regards to climate change" and the Werribee Treatment Plant would be swamped by rising sea levels, he said.
■ He fully supported the Melbourne 2030 planning blueprint and said Melbourne would be in a much better shape if it had been introduced in the 1980s.
Environment Minister Gavin Jennings will announce at the conference that Victoria is working towards "broadening" its sustainability requirements for new homes beyond the five star standard.
The Government is also expected to announce more funding for energy efficient appliances in the home and funding to promote "low emissions lifestyles".
There will also be money for improving the sustainability of Government buildings and the announcement of a new round table group, including Victoria's Planning and Environment Minister and industry groups, to discuss possible new planning regulations to promote sustainable buildings.
More than 1800 building experts will attend the conference, that runs at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre until Thursday.
The tri-yearly conference is the biggest sustainable building conference held in the world.
Rosario Marin, chairwoman of Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Green Action Team, will speak to the conference.
Mr Roper said coastal cities such as Melbourne would be the most exposed to rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events.
He said Melbourne would also have to deal with higher temperatures.
"So a building that might be comfortable today might be distinctly uncomfortable in 30 or 40 years time," Mr Roper said.
Mr Roper said he supported mandatory reporting of the energy efficiency of all buildings, including homes, at the point of sale. He said while the Cain government in the 1980s introduced some important building sustainability reforms, including mandatory insulation, more could have been done.
Master Builders executive director Brian Welch called on the Government to ensure existing homes achieved a greater standard of efficiency before sustainability regulations were increased for new homes.
"The sustainability performance of existing homes could be greatly improved by installing roof installation, dual flush toilets and water-saving shower heads," he said.
The Victorian chairman of the Green Building Council of Australia, Tony Arnel, said the council was attempting to deliver "market transformation" towards more sustainable buildings through the use of the green building rating systems.
"The reality is that you wouldn't build a new commercial building in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane these days without some environmental credentials that are well above the minimum standards identified by the building code," he said.
The CSIRO and a consortium of industry and government partners will announce plans at the conference to construct Australia's first zero emission house.