Universal design in housing faces the same policy and industry challenges as the sustainability movement. Consumers are unclear about their choice, and confused by terminology and rating systems. Home builders are locked into supply chains that limit innovation, and financial institutions can’t see the value of such designs.
The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has devised a policy framework for transitioning to sustainable homes. It identifies five key actions:
- National leadership
- Benchmarking and upskilling
- Building a foundation of leading homes
- Engaging consumers
- Leveraging finance
Tomorrow’s homes: A policy framework outlines how the structure of the housing industry creates restrictions on doing anything differently. It also has suggestions for appealing to consumers by using language they relate to. Comfortable, healthy, affordable, easy to use – in short, appealing to their aspirations. Consumers don’t frame their aspirations in words such as sustainable, accessible, or universal design. And they don’t aspire to ageing or disability.
The document concludes with a call for home builders to engage in the sustainable housing market now rather than wait for regulation. However, a voluntary approach hasn’t turned out well for accessible housing.
Anyone interested in the housing market and housing policy will find this a useful document. Easy to read and well laid out it argues the case for policy reform in housing design.
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