CEFC tips $95m into solar powered, energy efficient community housing

Low-income families in regional New South Wales will soon have access to 220 new highly energy efficient, solar and battery powered community dwellings, through a housing project being backed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The CEFC said on Thursday that it was investing $95 million to support Housing Plus to deliver 47 new homes over the coming three years – 47 in Bathurst, 87 in Dubbo, and 86 in Orange.

Housing Plus – which secured the CEFC finance through a successful bid for funding offered by the NSW Social and Affordable Housing Fund – said it would also use the money for retrofits of solar and energy efficient technologies across some of its existing properties.

The new homes, meanwhile, will be built to a minimum 7-Star National Housing Energy Rating System (NatHERS) standard – a 40 per cent improvement on homes built to the current minimum standard.

A range of technologies and measures will be used to achieve this, including rooftop solar, battery installations, heat pumps, additional insulation, double glazing, smart meters, LED lighting and energy efficient white goods.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the green bank’s decision to invest in the program was motivated by helping families cut their energy costs while also benefiting the environment.

“These diverse investments are a great demonstration of the way proven clean energy technologies can deliver benefits right across the economy,” Learmonth said.

“Once families settle in these new homes, the clean energy benefits will speak for themselves, with increased levels of comfort requiring significantly less energy for day-to-day living.

“These homes, because they require less energy, will also help reduce the emissions impact of our built environment.”

Housing Plus CEO David Fisher said the funds from the CEFC would help deliver one of the largest social and affordable housing programs the state’s Central West region had seen for years.

“This will support the local community and growth in the economy for years to come as well as create jobs in construction and services in the short term,” Fisher said.

“A key feature of the properties is the provision of energy efficient measures to reduce the running
costs of these homes into the future.

“As well as providing families with secure, affordable housing, Housing Plus will link tenants and household members with local services to help them work towards greater independence. There is a particular focus on supporting vulnerable older women.”

CEFC community housing sector lead, Victoria Adams, said the green bank hoped the investment would have benefits across broader community housing sector, as well.

“Housing Plus will also expand its existing education program to help its tenants adopt more energy efficient lifestyles,” Adams said.

“We will share the insights from this project with other community housing providers, through the Housing Alliance and CHIA (NSW), to encourage the more widespread adoption of sustainable housing practices.”

As we reported here, the CEFC in 2016 launched a major new program to help drive the construction of market-leading energy efficient community housing in Australia’s cities and suburbs.

The $250 million Community Housing Program, aimed to help build as many as 1,000 new energy efficient dwellings Australia-wide, via Community Housing Providers.
The establishment of the new program followed the release of a CEFC market report, that identified a major shortage of social housing in Australia, with more than 200,000 approved applicants on waiting lists nationwide.

It also found that – due to this rate of demand – there was likely to be a significant requirement for debt finance to support new development – development that, the CEFC said, should be built to ambitious energy efficiency standards.

Prior to the NSW regional program, the CEFC has also provided $170 million to finance the development of around 500 energy efficient homes in Sydney.

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