AS the major land developer in town, Bathurst Regional Council is in a perfect position to shape low-energy, sustainable suburbs of the future says The Greens’ lead candidate for the local government election on September 9.
John Fry will lead the only party-affiliated ticket at the council election and is campaigning on increased use of renewable energy across the Bathurst region and better connected suburbs.
And he says council can help reduce future household power bills by incorporating better design in its new release suburbs.
Speaking from a new housing development in Eglinton, Mr Fry said it was time for council surveyors to shelve the traditional “Bathurst grid” design of town planning to focus on making better use of the sun.
“If elected, The Greens have a vision for low-energy, sustainable housing in the Bathurst region,” Mr Fry said.
“Traditionally, the people who have built sustainable housing have been older people but with clever design we can build homes for young people and first homebuyers and they are the people building the new homes out here.”
Mr Fry said changes had to start at the surveying stage of town planning.
“The house developments being built now are the same as what we were building in the 1950s and 1960s, with all the houses facing the street,” he said.
“That means your home may be facing the west which means there’s an enormous so there’s an enormous heat load which means you need a big air conditioner and you get a bigger power bill.
“I’m not against air conditioning, but why not build your home in such a way that you only need to use the air conditioner 30 per cent of the time?”
Mr Fry said designing new developments so more houses had roofs facing the north would allow more people to use solar power to keep down their future bills.
He believed clever surveying would allow council to retain the same density of housing lots in new developments while still allowing better aspects for solar panels.
“An extra $10,000 at the outset [for solar panels] basically means you’re paying your electricity bill in advance,” he said.
“And as electricity costs continue to rise, the savings will be greater and greater.”
Bathurst Real Estate sales consultant Jay Cleary said energy efficiency was becoming a greater concern for homebuyers.
“There are definitely more people talking about things like insulation, double glazing and solar panels – providing it’s affordable,” he said.
“Right across the board we are seeing this happen more because of the high cost of energy.”