Is energy efficiency enough? Retrofitting existing homes towards 2050

  • YEAR
    Tan, Jack
    Dewsbury, Mark
    Watson, Phillipa
    2021 Symposium Abstracts
    Conference Papers


Retrofitting existing housing needs to consider issues beyond energy efficiency and include other occupant concerns including aging in place (for an aging population), health and wellbeing, and increasingly, also, working productively from home. In Australia, about 30% of total energy consumption is from the housing sector (ABS, 2019), this comes from around 8.3 million households (AIHW, 2021). This research project by University of Tasmania is examining retrofitting for health, wellbeing, and liveability. As part of this several national and international sustainability housing and retrofit tools have been reviewed to understand their applicability for potential adaptation in Australia. The research has found that a more holistic approach that includes strategies other than just energy related ones to inform retrofit decisions is imperative to address our multi-faceted environmentally sustainable housing challenges.

The research has included a deep examination of national and international rating tools to analyse, compare, and contrast their priorities on improvement goals for existing buildings’ Indoor Environmental Qualities. The tools that were analysed included BREEAM, WELL, LBC, LEED, Greenstar interiors, NatHERS, Enterprise Green Communities and PAS 2035.

The analysis revealed that each of the tools have different priorities. The complexity within our built environment was not necessarily reflected in our choice of tools and the tools’ respective assessment criteria to assists or complement energy reduction goals. Generally, each of the tools’ different focus on improving energy efficiency strategies did not provide simple guidance or recommendations to reduce retrofit risks and correlations between healthy interior environments and energy efficiency were lacking.

The need to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, often leads to a simplistic focus on building energy efficiency. This singular focus often fails to recognise gains in productivity, and other aspects of the indoor environmental quality that create healthier interior environments, allowing for both more fulfilled occupants and near net-zero housing. Greenhouse gas emissions related to the making and operation of buildings combined with a more holistic mixed tool approach is essential in retrofitting housing to guide and address occupant concerns beyond energy reduction goals. The presentation will also share some of the research’s steps, using both computer simulation (AccuRate, WUFI-Plus) and non-simulation rating tools to analysis, quantify and guide the retrofit strategies.

ABS. (2019). Energy Account, Australia. Retrieved from
AIHW. (2021). Home ownership and housing tenure. Retrieved from


To top