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NCC energy efficiency improvements put on hold?

The Victorian government has announced that some requirements in the National Construction Code that were due to come into effect in October 2023 may be delayed, including those around energy efficiency.

In 2022, industry stakeholders advocated strongly to lift the minimum energy efficiency requirements for new homes from 6 to 7 NatHERS stars – the first major increase in more than a decade. This was finally agreed by state and territory building ministers in August.

A new annual energy-use budget has also been included in NCC 2022. This is applicable to major appliances such as space conditioning, hot water, lighting, pool and spa pumps, offset by any onsite renewable energy generation.

The NCC sets the minimum required level for the safety, health, amenity, accessibility and sustainability of different building types. It is updated by the Australian Building Codes Board on behalf of the Australian government, and each state and territory government. But it is up to individual jurisdictions to adopt the code.

Inconsistent adoption of the NCC has long been a challenge across Australia. Western Australia allowed the provisional use of the National Construction Code (NCC) 2016 until May 2021. The Northern Territory is only adopting energy-efficiency provisions under NCC 2019 for new non-residential buildings on October 1, 2023.

Now, it is understood that economic pressures are causing Victoria to reconsider the timing of some requirements in NCC 2022.

“Builders are currently experiencing significant global economic challenges, including rising supply chain costs,” reads the government statement.

“After consultation with the sector, the government will consider providing an extended transition for some new National Construction Code requirements that are currently scheduled to commence in October.”

It is understood that the provisions that may be delayed relate to energy performance and liveable housing. NSW has also indicated that it will not adopt the liveable housing provisions in NCC 2022, a move that has been criticised in mainstream media.

Industry bodies are in talks with the Victorian government to clarify the situation and advocate for the adoption of the October provisions as planned.

Photo by Pat Whelen on Unsplash

5 Replies to “NCC energy efficiency improvements put on hold?

  1. The building industry needs to put together some hard evidence that these changes will result in an increase in building costs, because a general consumer can find pricing that indicates the materials needed are no more expensive or are actually cheaper due to volume pricing. The required change means builders must consider their design and rework the design documentation, in particular for off plan designs. This rework should have already occurred and new designs should be available to consumers. The impact of not keeping the changes and improvements in NCC2022 is a significant cost in natural disaster relief payments and costs in insurances. The end user is the major loser if the Government does not stay on plan to meet Carbon reduction targets. Consumers need to request builders to only provide houses that meet the new NCC2022 provisions.

    1. Significant information regarding substantial cost increases applicable to the NCC changes has been provided to every level of Government. Your statements around cost are completely inaccurate. Consumers will demand from builders the best home they can afford. In Queensland, where full implementation could result in up to $50k of extra cost, depending on the style of home, I can assure you there is no appetite from consumers for unnecessary cost increases. In the middle of a housing crisis what we actually need is more new homes, not more expensive homes.

      1. When you suggest ‘unnecessary cost increases’ are you suggesting that energy efficiency, build quality, build longevity and health of our home’s indoor environments is unnecessary? surely not.

      2. Your $50,000 figure is pure fiction and scaremongering. That is part of the reason Australia has some of the least energy efficient and thermally uncomfortable houses in the world.. I saw the same arguments and false figures 20 years ago in the UK when decent thermal performance regs were brought in. However, instead of hurting the construction industry because of cost rises, it stimulated demand as people wanted improved comfort, and lower energy bills. Currently in Australia, the fastest growing demand in residential construction is for high performance energy efficient homes. Designers and builders in this area cannot keep up with demand yet others are so scared of change and needing to learn new ideas they do all they can to prevent much needed change.

  2. It cannot be any clearer than this: “There are four fundamental elements to effective climate mitigation in buildings. Maximization of efficiency, reliance on renewable energy, mini- mization of embodied carbon and achieving the first three things as soon as possible.
    I. Maximize Energy Efficiency
    Operating energy efficiency is typically the first element addressed by policy makers because it is the largest source of building emissions and enables the achievement of multiple social goals. Given its central role,
    and the fact it is usually the first area to encounter systemic inertia, it is important to begin with a clear understanding of what is to be achieved, and why. Without leaders having a clear commitment to the necessary outcomes, systemic inertia will undermine efficiency outcomes, setting the stage for a failure to achieve goals in addressing the other elements such as embodied carbon, smart building systems and grid integrated renewable energy systems. Drastically reducing embodied emissions and successfully implementing smart building strategies also requires disruption of status quo thinking, making it important to begin the task of transforming build- ings with an openness to change and commitment to excellence.” Extract from the What is Required of Buildings – The Outcomes Required of Buildings p15. By The Building Performance Assurance Council (BPAC)

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