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NRAS a vital piece of the affordable, sustainable housing jigsaw

Affordable, sustainable housing must not slip down the federal government’s agenda, says the nation’s green building authority.

In response to criticism of the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has called on the Australian Government to recommit to the scheme.

“NRAS has been a driver of affordable housing projects across Australia.  Many are meeting Green Star benchmarks for sustainable design and construction,” says the GBCA’s Chief Operating Officer, Robin Mellon, “making them more efficient, productive and healthy.”

“Rather than scrapping the scheme, the Abbott Government has the opportunity to make a good scheme even better.

Since it was established, NRAS has delivered 14,500 homes with allocations for a further 23,000 homes.  The scheme also supported Australia’s residential construction industry through the global financial crisis.

Positive, sustainable outcomes have been achieved at projects such as Monash University’s Briggs Hall & Jackomos Hall, which was the first project to achieve 5 Star Green Star – Multi Unit Residential As Built v1 certification in Australia, and which consumes 45 per cent less energy than business-as-usual.

The University of Tasmania also has NRAS-funded projects registered to achieve Green Star ratings.

“These NRAS projects demonstrate that well-designed and well-constructed, sustainable developments are more efficient buildings – with lower energy consumption and lower energy bills the result,” Mr Mellon says.

Livability and affordability are also rewarded within the Green Star – Communities rating tool.

Executive Director of the Residential Development Council, Nick Proud, has said that ditching the NRAS would be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

“Scrapping the program would leave the federal government out of the housing affordability and supply issue – a national issue that needs a national response,” Mr Proud says.

“Increasing housing affordability in Australia requires a range of complementary measures, together with commitment from industry and all levels of government. NRAS is a vital piece of the jigsaw – one that we can't afford to lose,” Mr Mellon concludes.