Interview – Australian Property Institute

4 July 2012

Your Future Home chats 1-on-1 with Tony McNamara, Professional Standards Manager, Australian Property Institute about sustainability.

Tony McNamara

Tony McNamara, Professional Standards Manager, Australian Property Institute

1. How does The Australian Property Institute (API) define sustainability?

The most common reference is to the Bruntland Commission reference from 1987 – see below extract.
“ Brundtland (1987): This is the most commonly quoted definition and it aims to be more comprehensive than most: Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs.
It contains within it two key concepts: The concepts of needs, in particular the essential needs of the worlds poor, to which overriding priority should be given, and: The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environments ability to meet present and future needs.”

2. What impact does the API see sustainability having on the value of houses?

At present it is not significantly reflective in the value as such (as opposed to the cost), but more so there is a relationship between housing value and sustainability.  The strength of the relationship would vary depending on many factors including the location (i.e. climate), age of the dwelling, sustainability features, etc. However, new building requirements for the inclusion of energy efficient fittings or water saving measures need to be acknowledged. Comparable sales of properties with similar inclusions are used as the primary evidence so that any difference between older properties completed prior to the current requirements and newer properties that comply with the current requirements can be identified. This reinforces the comparison of “like with like” which is the primary consideration in all valuations.

3. Do you see any barriers stopping the home building industry from being more sustainable? If so, what are these barriers?

One of the major barriers is lack of understanding or a misunderstanding.   Many feel that sustainability is just a matter of changing the lightbulbs rather than embodied energy or transport energy.  There is a desperate need for more education as the market sectors have relatively little knowledge about sustainability in its true context.

4. How is the sustainability trend affecting API members?

The API members are usually interpreting the market and therefore sustainability has become a major influence in the broader marketplace.  Tenants and owners are increasingly familiar with sustainability.

5. Does the API believe it can assist to build confidence and awareness toward Sustainability? If so, what does the API do?

Yes the API has been increasing the level of awareness about sustainability by publishing research in its property journal and also delivering CPD seminars about sustainability.

6. Where do you see the sustainable housing industry in five years?

Sustainability will become embedded as a standard with non-sustainable housing holding less appeal for informed purchasers.  It is a strong argument (much like when toilets were added inside dwellings) that housing which is not sustainable will not be future proofed. However, economics will continue to be the major driver.

7. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about API and sustainability?

There are varying levels of sustainability and it is often confusing to the property industry.  Much like IT, those experts in the know are often operating at a much higher level than standard industry professionals.  The API will continue to promote sustainability to its members and is keen to be involved as a major stakeholder in the increase of sustainability in the property industry.

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