Efficiency Insight - August 2020

Efficiency Insight is the Energy Efficiency Council's monthly energy management update for members, partners and stakeholders.

Video update from the Council's CEO, Luke Menzel

It has been a hard few weeks, especially in Victoria. My short video update this month covers the current health crisis, the impact of lockdowns on Energy Efficiency Council members, and what it will take to get through to the other side.

Click on the image above – or here – to watch. Also worth checking out Rob's policy update, which dives deep on the same issues.

Or if you are reaching saturation point on COVID coverage, there is a bunch of other stuff below worthy of your time and attention.

Stay safe,

Luke Menzel
Chief Executive Officer
Energy Efficiency Council

Connect with Luke on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Policy update

From First Fuel: Industry Council on Energy and Emissions

Efficiency Leaders with Julianne Tice of the Energy Efficiency Council

Talking IEA EBC in Australia and around the world with Dr Paul Ruyssevelt and Stanford Harrison

Online professional development

Virtual events hosted by Energy Efficency Council partners

To subscribe to receive future editions of Efficiency Insight direct to your inbox, click here.

Policy update

Rob Murray-Leach, Head of Policy, Energy Efficiency Council

The active outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria remains the most significant challenge to Australia’s energy management sector. I’m not going to duplicate the media’s extensive coverage of COVID-19, but I will touch on a few issues in order to bring the impacts into focus.

On 7 July the Victorian Government reintroduced Stage 3 restrictions in Melbourne and Mitchell shire. A study by the Burnett Institute estimates that these restrictions substantially reduced the rate of transmission, reducing the number of additional infections in July from potentially around 29,000 to just 8,000.

However, the Victorian Government's health experts decided that the rates of transmission weren’t dropping fast enough, with significant transmission still occurring in workplaces, such as warehouses and abattoirs. Accordingly, on 2 August the Government  increased restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne to Stage 4, and on 5 August they raised restrictions in the rest of Victoria to Stage 3. We will be sending out a separate email to members with the details of Stage 4 restrictions, but at a broad level:

  • There is a curfew in place from 8pm to 5am, and people can only leave their homes for work, medical care or caregiving;
  • Outside of curfew, people are only allowed to leave their house to attend work, provide care, seek healthcare, exercise or shop for essential items;
  • Only ‘Permitted Work Premises’ may operate with on-site operations. Of relevance for the energy efficiency sector, ‘critical repair work’ to existing facilities and construction and major renovations of buildings are permitted. However, renovations to occupied dwellings are not permitted.

The specifics of the restrictions are regularly updated, and we strongly encourage people to not rely on this article, but instead get the most up to date information from the Victorian Government’s website.

Based on the restrictions in place on 12 August, some types of energy efficiency upgrade are possible, but there are restrictions on many forms of upgrade, such as upgrades to occupied dwellings. The Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEU) Program has retained the temporary suspension of incentives for some activities (15, 17, 21 and 30), but has not introduced suspensions for other activities, which can be carried out as long as they are delivered in-line with Stage 4 restrictions. For example, Accredited Parties could still generate certificates for the replacement of electric resistive heaters with high-efficiency reverse cycle air conditioners if that upgrade is associated with the renovation for an unoccupied dwelling.

The 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Victoria has been falling since 2 August, but there is no firm date for when restrictions will be lifted. Given that another major wave of COVID-19 would have significant economic and social impacts, the Victorian Government will be cautious about lifting restrictions until they are sure that transmission has been substantially brought under control, which is likely several weeks away.

Energy efficiency upgrades are still permitted in all other states and territories. Household expenditure on ‘home improvement’ (e.g. Bunnings) has been well above its historic average since 29 March 2020, and the AlphaBeta and Illion tracker shows that expenditure in the week starting 2 August was 34 per cent above average. Combined with increased household focus on thermal comfort and reduced energy bills, the last six months has seen significant increase in spending on measures like DIY draught sealing and insulation. There is a significant opportunity to capitalise on this interest, and increase the energy efficiency of Australia’s homes.

By contrast, anecdotal data suggests that energy efficiency investment in commercial and industrial sites is still subdued. While businesses are very interested in reducing their energy costs, they are extremely wary about capital expenditure. This means that much of the energy saving activity right now among businesses is either low-cost or supported by government programs (e.g. commercial lighting upgrades under energy efficiency schemes).

Energy efficiency stimulus

The EEC has continued to work with its partners to advocate that governments should focus they economic stimulus funding on energy efficiency measures such as upgrading the energy efficiency of government buildings, businesses and households.

Energy efficiency makes great stimulus because it is jobs intensive. The International Energy Agency, International Monetary Fund, Deloitte and AlphaBeta have all produced very conservative estimates that each AUD 1 million spent on energy efficiency creates between 7 and 11 job-years of employment. This isn’t just theory - the Obama Administration created an estimated 200,000 jobs between 2009 and 2011 through energy efficiency programs that focussed on upgrading government buildings and low-income homes.

Energy efficiency also makes a lot of sense for stimulus because it:

  • Can be rolled out rapidly to many parts of the economy;
  • Has long-term health, welfare and productivity dividends; and
  • Delivers low cost emission reductions. According to the IEA, from 2014 to 2016, improvements in energy efficiency were responsible for 75 per cent of the stabilisation of emissions from the global energy system.

It is still unclear where governments will focus any further economic stimulus. While the Australian Government’s COVID Commission has proposed some stimulus for the gas industry, other governments have been more tight-lipped. We anticipate that federal, state and territory governments will announce additional economic recovery measures in the budgets that many of them will release around October.

We also anticipate that both major Queensland parties will make policy announcements about energy in the run-up to the Queensland state election on 31 October 2020.

Other policy developments

With governments heavily focussed on managing the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, there has been far less focus on other areas. The Victorian Government was supposed to table the State’s Emissions Reduction Targets for 2025 and 2030 in Parliament on 6 August, but on 31st July the Victorian Government announced that the release of the targets would be delayed, and didn’t provide clarity about when they would be announced.

However, there has been some progress on a national energy efficiency rating tool for buildings. A report on the testing of the Victorian Scorecard in other jurisdictions can now be found here, and a report on the possible extension of NatHERS to existing homes can now be found here. While the precise form of a national rating tool hasn’t yet been confirmed, it appears that it will now be developed nationally under the framework of the National Home Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).

Work is also proceeding on designing incentives to reduce peak demand under the energy efficiency schemes in NSW and South Australia. We expect consultation papers on these programs within the next two months.


The Australian Government is currently offering several grants under its Energy Efficient Communities Program. These include:

  • Dairy Farming Business Grants: up to $20,000 to improve the energy efficiency of dairies. The details of this grant can be found here, and applications for grants close at 5pm on 17 August 2020.
  • Small Business Grants: up to $20,000 to support an energy efficiency project for a business with an annual turnover of less than $10 million. The details of this grant can be found here, and applications for grants close at 5pm on 26 August 2020.
  • High Energy Using Business Grants: up to $25,000 to cover up to 50 per cent of the cost of an energy efficiency projects for a business with an annual net energy consumption of more than 0.05 PJ per year. The details of this grant can be found here, and applications for grants close at 5pm on 24 September 2020.

The City of Sydney is also offering grants of up to $15,000 for energy audits and environmental ratings for buildings. The details of the grants can found here, and applications close on 31 August 2020.

From First Fuel: Industry Council on Energy and Emissions

Recently on our podcast, First Fuel, Energy Efficiency Counil CEO Luke Menzel was joined by Tennant Reed from Australian Industry Group and Bradley Anderson from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to discuss a major new report, Pivot – Rebound – Transform.

The report from an independent group of experts focuses on the actions necessary to drive a rapid increase in the size and sophistication of the energy management market that serves Australian industry.

Brad, Tennant and Luke has a wide ranging discussion that included a deep dive on one of the report’s major recommendations – the creation of an Industry Council on Energy and Emissions.

Read on for the portion of the interview that focused on this recommendation; to hear the entire interview and subscribe to future episode of First Fuel click here.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Luke:  Tennant, one of the most interesting recommendations in the report is the creation of an Industry Council for Energy and Emissions, which is kind of a peak body for peak bodies to drive strategic engagement across industry bodies, but also between industry and government around energy and climate issues that impact the industrial sector in Australia.

This is an idea that's been bubbling along in an embryonic form for a little while now and it's really good to see it coalesce into this recommendation. So what would the benefits of such a body be, and what would it need to succeed?

Tennant: I'll point to three major areas of benefit. One is for a more proactive engagement on these issues from industry stakeholders rather than waiting to react to proposals that come out of government. There is often good stuff that comes out of government; sometimes there's not a lot of time to respond, sometimes there's heaps of time. But either way, it's really valuable to have an attitude of ‘what do we think the problems are, what do we think the solutions are, how can we work together to ensure that the pieces are falling into place?’ 

The second benefit is the ongoing nature of the dialogue, rather than, again, just bubbling up once in a while when there is a big external driver. To be building up ongoing relationships, ongoing lifting of the shared understanding of what the challenges of the sector and the contexts are, is really useful. 

And then, the third point is breaking down what are currently silos between the different disciplines and sectors that are involved. I'm a big believer in cross-sectoral dialogue as something that gets a lot of value - gets people out of talking their book and arguing their case in their corner - and building up a greater understanding of how systems work and what our shared interest are, and bringing energy users, efficiency professionals and advisors and government, - you know, as an observer of that process - together as well as NGO's. That can be a really useful dialogue.

For all that to work though there needs to be buy-in to a shared sense of purpose; agreement about what we are trying to achieve. The building and cultivation of trust is critical, and it is very easy to lose that if people feel like they're not really being heard, or if they're seeing their discussions pop up in the papers rather than in the minutes - that kind of thing is a challenge. And then the final requirement is around the resourcing of this is very important. Participants commit to it and help to make it work, and that is going to be a challenge for everybody and anybody during what are going to be a few difficult years for the Australian economy and everybody in it. 

Luke: The thing this proposal reminds me of is the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, which is somewhat unique both in Australia and around the world. A collaborative institution of peak bodies, encompassing all kinds of organisations, professional and industry associations, including the Property Council, the Green Building Council, Facility Management Association, AIRAH and  another twenty or so others, including the Energy Efficiency Council. Organisations that are coming from different points on the spectrum that have united around this view that there is a journey to go on in the built environment towards more sustainable outcomes.

Having been involved with ASBEC for a few years now, it is a safe space to have conversations, to test ideas. And having government in there as observers means that there is interesting dialogues that happen in the context of an ASBEC task group that are difficult to have in other spaces. You can get a lot further a lot quicker, by having these conversations ‘off Broadway’ as it were, rather than every conversation that goes on between industry and government being in front of the cameras. 

So, there is a bit of a model there and it would be really fascinating to see how it might support further engagement in the industrial space. But Brad, I know you have some ideas for the types of things that such a body could practically do, do you want to give us an example of one of those?

Brad: It's all about the collaboration right. I think a group like this could support a proper co-design process. So we aren't as government doing some research, doing some modelling, then going out to industry and asking them the question; ‘Will this work in reality? What's your business plans over the next 10 years? Are we going to be able to deliver this?’

Instead, we'd be better in a better position to start the conversation from the industry's perspective. Or have a conversation that cuts across sectors; once we start having those conversations off camera, as you said, then I really do think that that cross-sectoral approach becomes much more possible and you start to find real big synergies. That is especially true for shared infrastructure projects that don’t stack up when we don’t have those conversations across sectors.

It would also help us unlock some of those high value emissions abatement opportunities that Tennant alluded to earlier. They are really, really hard to understand when technology's not commercialised.

A pilot project over in Belgium, or a demonstration plant in Germany might be all you have to go on. If we start to have those joined up conversations with the industry sectors that can actually make a call one way or the other whether a particular approach is relevant for Australian industry I think that we can start to move the idea into reality a lot faster. 

Luke: So the recommendation from the independent group of experts is that government provide some seed funding for a couple of years, to get this peak body off the ground and allow it to demonstrate some value until it becomes self-sufficient.

My experience with ASBEC would suggest that this doesn't necessarily need to be a cast of thousands;  ASBEC gets a hell of a lot done through the goodwill of its members, some very hard working task groups, an executive director and a support person bringing all those parties together. So it strikes me as a modest investment for what could be some exciting outcomes in driving industry-government collaboration in this crucial area. 

First Fuel podcast

The Energy Efficiency Council's podcast, First Fuel, brings you the latest perspectives on energy efficiency, energy management and demand response from Australia and around the world. An episode is recorded every week.

For more information, click here.

Efficiency Leaders with Julianne Tice

The energy management sector is made up of many passionate professionals – and it’s about time we heard from them! In a new monthly feature, the Energy Efficiency Council will profile a current or emerging industry leader.

This month we’re profiling Julianne Tice, Project Officer at the Energy Efficiency Council and full-time Masters student.

What company/organisation do you work for?

The Energy Efficiency Council! I am also a full-time student at University of Melbourne, where I am completing a Master of Environment degree with a specialisation in global environmental politics and policy.

What is your role? 

I am a Project Officer. I started out late in 2019 at EEC doing communications, including managing social media and newsletters, and I have begun providing project and policy support in recent months, including conducting research and stakeholder engagement and writing policy submissions, all while continuing with the communications bit and learning a lot.

What did you do prior to your current role?

I’ve moved around quite a bit.

My first job after my I completed my undergraduate degree was performing residential energy audits in the US, which was an odd job for me because it involved crawling around in attics and crawlspaces (sometimes spider-filled and claustrophobia-inducing) and assessing insulation levels.

It wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned with my environmental science degree. Little did I know, however, that it would set me up very well to coordinate a home retrofit program for low-income and vulnerable people at Brotherhood of St Laurence, and now to work on energy efficiency projects and policy at EEC.

What is your company’s/organisation’s role in the energy management market and Australia’s energy transition?

Anyone who’s made it this far is probably aware, but essentially we are trying to facilitate the transition to a zero-carbon economy by expanding energy efficiency in all sectors of the Australian economy. We are trying to bring awareness to energy efficiency, which is something many Australians are not aware of, and make it possible for people to use less energy, which is an absolutely critical part of the transition to net zero emissions.

What do you enjoy about working for your company/organisation?

Working at EEC is fantastic because I’m surrounded by genuinely smart, passionate people who are a pleasure to work with and who care about helping me learn and succeed. I also feel like I’m making a legitimate contribution to improving the environment and the lives of others.

How do you stay connected with your team when you aren’t in the office?

We have a team meeting bright and early every morning and virtual drinks on Fridays, sometimes with a ‘pub quiz’. I recently made everyone suffer through a round of insulation trivia.

How do you champion energy efficiency in your own home?

It’s difficult, living in a sub-standard rental home, to be very energy efficient because I can only control so much. I’m quite confident there is no insulation in the home and there are cracks and gaps everywhere which make it impossible for the home to hold heat. I have begun to plug gaps with caulk where possible, which is about the extent of what I can do. I have a temperature logger in my living room and occasionally post the indoor temperature on twitter to raise awareness of the poor quality of rental homes in Australia (it’s been as low as 5 degrees inside when I wake up in the morning).

Do you now work from home, and if so, what is something you enjoy about working from home?

I enjoy going for a walk around the neighbourhood every morning in place of my bike ride to work and I enjoy the time that has been freed up from not commuting. I do miss working in the same place as my co-workers and getting a change of scenery, so I’m hoping we get to work out of home sometime in the not-too-distant future.

When not immersed in Australia’s energy transition, what do you do for fun?

Not much during lockdown, but I go for bike rides and walks when I can, get takeaway from various restaurants around my neighbourhood, and watch travel shows and documentaries to make myself feel like I’m not in my house just for a little while. I also spend a lot of time studying!

What are you currently excited about in the energy world?

While I’m obviously not excited about COVID and the impacts it’s having on people, I am excited that many people are now realising how uncomfortable their homes are in winter and that residential energy efficiency seems to be getting a small amount of traction in the media.

Coming from a cold climate with well-sealed and insulated homes, I know how different things can be and I am hopeful that others will come to the same realisation so we can work towards something better.

Where do you see Australia’s energy and energy management markets in 2030?

I see energy efficiency and demand management becoming a much bigger part of the conversation as people realise that renewables can only do so much. Both energy management and renewables are so important to solving the energy and climate issue, but renewables get the majority of the focus.

I hope that in the next ten years, decision-makers and the public realise that we first need to focus on using less energy before replacing our energy sources.

Talking IEA EBC in Australia and around the world with Dr Paul Ruyssevelt and Stanford Harrison

Date: 26 August 2020
Time: 4.00pm - 5.00pm AEST

Later this month the Energy Efficiency Council is hosting a webinar with one of the UK's leading energy efficiency experts, and one of Australia's most knowledgable energy efficiency policymakers to discuss global collaboration on energy efficient and resilient buildings.

The Energy Efficiency Council has had a longstanding collaboration with the IEA's Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) programme; indeed we co-hosted our 2016 and 2018 National Conferences with the EBC.

A lot has happened in energy efficiency since 2018, and on Wednesday 26 August we'll check in with two key experts: 

  • Paul Ruyssevelt, Professor of Energy and Building Performance at the UCL Energy Institute and Vice Chair of the EBC; and
  • Stanford Harrison, Manager - Commercial Buildings Policy, at the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), whose many responsibilities include Australia's Commercial Building Disclosure program.

Paul and Stanford are the IEA EBC's national representatives for the UK and Australia respectively, and are key players in the global collaborative research effort to drive the transition to energy efficient buildings and resilient communities.

Click here to register.

The Council's collaboration with DISER and the IEA EBC on promoting global collaboration on energy efficiency continues to gather momentum; keep an eye on the IEA EBC in Australia webpage for updates over the coming year.

Online professional development: EnMS, CPD and more

Get caught up on the Energy Efficiency Council's online training offerings, from the new Certified Energy Manager course to the new sold out Energy management systems advisor training.

Energy management systems advisor training

Whether looking to improve their budget bottom line or committing to achieve net zero emissions, leading businesses are reviewing their energy strategy and management.

Many businesses consider opportunities for energy performance improvements in an ad hoc way. By contrast, implementing an energy management system (EnMS) unlocks continuous improvement, and the financial and other benefits that go along with it. An EnMS integrates an energy management framework into existing business systems, enabling businesses to understand their energy use and implement a strategic approach to energy management. 

An EnMS establishes a systematic approach to energy management. This includes energy strategy development, energy management planning, implementation of plans, and ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created ISO 50001 to provide organisations with an internationally recognised framework for developing an effective EnMS. While ISO 50001 is not right for every business, all energy intensive businesses should have an EnMS that allows them to effectively manage their energy use.

This pilot training has sold out, but expressions of interest are now open

Online Energy Efficiency Council training

Capturing the Value of Demand Response

Dates: Tuesday 15 – Wednesday 16 September 2020
Times: 9am - 12.30pm AEST (both days)

Standard fee: $490 +GST
EEC member fee: $360 +GST

Trainer: Bruce Rowse
Videoconference: Zoom
Participants: 15 class members (max)
CPD: 8 contact hours; the certificate of completion will be emailed to you after the course.

Click here for more information and to register 

Certified Energy Manager (CEM) accreditation

Dates: Monday 12 - Thursday 16 October 2020
Times: 10am - 4pm AEST (each day) + 4-hour exam
Contact hours: 25 + exam
Exam: Individually scheduled and proctored within two weeks of the course
Registration closes: Friday 18 September 2020

Training + exam fees:
Standard: $4,390 inc. GST
EEC member: $3,685 inc. GST
Trainer: Roger Horwood
Videoconference: Zoom
Participants: 20 (max)

Certified Measurement & Vertification Professional

Dates: Monday 26 - Thursday 29 October 2020
Session 1:
 10.00AM-12.30PM (please be online by 9.45AM to ensure a prompt start)
Break: 12.30-1.30PM
Session 2: 1.30-4.00PM
Exam: 4 hour exam individually scheduled and proctored in a two week window after course completion

Standard fee: $3,950
EEC member fee: $3,160

Click here for more information and to register.

Trainer: Bruce Rowse
Videoconference: Zoom
Class size: 17 maximum
Mandatory pre-course work: 3-5 hours
Schedule: 20 contact hours + 4 hour exam

Energy auditing to the Australian Standard

Dates: Tuesday 8 - Wednesday 9 December 2020
Times: 9am - 12.30pm AEST (both days)

Standard fee: $890 +GST
EEC member fee: $660 +GST

Trainer: Bruce Rowse
Videoconference: Zoom
Participants: 15 class members (max)
CPD: 1.4 credits; the certificate of completion will be emailed to you after the course

Click here for more information and to register

Continuing professional development

With accreditation comes the need for CPD, and we are working to build a suite of professional development opportunities to enable CEMs and CMVPs to manage their CPD requirements. Energy efficiency and Australia’s economic recovery on 1 July is a complimentary forum - eligible for CPD - featuring Michael Liebreich, and bringing together leaders from politics, business, the community sector and beyond to discuss how we can act to put energy efficiency at the heart of Australia’s economic recovery.

Continuing professional development for AEE certification

The Council's CEM and CMVP certifications require an ongoing commitment to professional development, and both are subject to a renewal process every three years that requires evidence of 10 AEE credits of CPD.

The Council offers a range of CPD opportunities, from our masterclasses through to the upcoming  National Summit, Energy efficiency and Australia's economic recovery on Wednesday 1 July.

CEMs and CMVPs are encouraged to consider their progress towards 10 AEE credit points as we approach the next three-year renewal process.

Virtual events hosted by EEC partners

The coming weeks are full of energy efficiency and economic recovery events, with a couple featuring EEC staff. Find out more below and fill your calendar with these can't-miss events.

Monash Energy Institute presents: Rethinking Global Energy Transition Pathways post Covid-19 - 12 August 2020

The United Nations has a goal of achieving universal access to clean energy by 2030. With less than a decade remaining, and with the pandemic is this goal still achievable? How will the world and the energy systems look like post-COVID19? How are customer needs as well as business and regulatory models going to evolve in this ever-changing energy sector? What research will be needed  to adapt and redesign the energy system moving forward to meet the demand of a different kind of society that is emerging?

Join Monash Energy Institute for a discussion with Dr Lawrence Jones, award winning industry leader and practitioner, Vice President of the International Programs at the Edison Electric Institute (Washington DC) and Honorary Industry Fellow at the Monash Energy Institute. They will explore questions related to the impact of Covid19 on energy systems and energy access globally, the economics of the energy transition and how to ensure that the transition worldwide is just. 

German-Australian Chamber presents: Industry Focus – Energy Efficiency - 18 August 2020

The German-Australian Chamber presents: Industry Focus. In each edition we will shed light on a different industry, give up-to-date information on the current economic situation, and discuss industry-specific challenges and opportunities that the Australian market presents.

For businesses involved in the energy efficiency industry, staying up to date on current developments is more important than ever, especially considering the COVID-19 crisis. This event features Energy Efficiency Council CEO Luke Menzel alongside Henning Ellermann, Head of Energy Efficiency in buildings of DENEFF.

Energy Users Associaiton of Australia 2020 Conference Series - 18 August - 24 September 2020

Beginning in August and running for approximately 16 weeks, the 2020 Conference Series is replacing the EUAA National Conference this year due to the COVID pandemic.

While the pandemic is rightfully taking centre stage, changes in energy markets that will have lasting impacts on energy users, are continuing at pace. It is crucial that energy users understand these changes and are prepared to manage new risks while taking advantage of new opportunities that will emerge in coming years.

This series of highly focused events is an opportunity for large energy users to come together with policy makers, regulators and the energy industry to share information about current and upcoming challenges, ideas, and innovation.

Re-energise Australia: A clean jobs summit for local government - 19 August 2020

Hosted by the Cities Power Partnership, this event will bring together local government leaders and experts to explore local government’s key role in delivering solutions that can rapidly put Australians back to work, reboot the economy, while also tackling long-term challenges like climate change. This event features Holly Taylor, Senior Manager, Projects and Partnerships, Energy Efficiency Council. Holly will discuss how rolling out a council-wide energy efficiency strategy can help stimulate local economies.

Renew presents: BZE Million Jobs Plan - 19 August 2020

The Million Jobs Plan is the framework to restore our economy. Beyond Zero Emissions has mapped out how we can rebuild our nation through practical projects that can restore our economy, modernise our industry, reskill our workforce and deliver a bright and secure economic future. Join Renew and Michael Lord, researcher at BZE, for a presentation on the report.