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Roadmap to safe and quality insulation

The governments of New South Wales and Victoria, along with Insulation Australasia (IA) and the Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand (ICANZ) are developing an industry-led roadmap to ensure that insulation is installed in Australia in a manner that is safe and delivers quality outcomes.

The project team consists of the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) and the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC).

The aim of the insulation roadmap is to facilitate actions from industry, government and community that will de-risk insulation.

An industry-led approach, says the project team, will ensure that the roadmap is supported by the best available information from the experts and the market, and will ensure that each party (industry, government and community) plays the role that they are best suited to undertake.

First step: consultation

The team has published a consultation paper that sets out initial findings from the project and potential solutions for delivering insulation installation in a safe and quality manner. The authors of the paper note that the potential solutions are not firm recommendations and are included to elicit critique.

“Australian jurisdictions have quite significant regulations and processes in place to manage health and safety on construction sites, which affects insulation installation in new builds and renovations,” says the paper.

“However, there are fewer processes in place in relation to insulation retrofits.”

The paper outlines the following factors for proper installation of insulation products:

  • Minimising unnecessary gaps in the coverage of insulation
  • Leaving space around heat-generating equipment (e.g. heating fans and downlights)
  • Basic moisture management, such as ensuring that ceiling insulation batts don’t touch the roof or sarking.

Lessons from abroad

The project team also examined international case studies – in Germany, Ireland, the United States and New Zealand – to identify options to improve the safety and quality of insulation installation.

A number of themes emerged from the case studies, including:

  • All countries set clear requirements for insulation in their building code
  • Several governments have fostered quality control in insulation installation by making access to incentives contingent on quality control processes
  • Several countries required either companies or appropriately accredited people to sign off and confirm that insulation installations met the relevant standards
  • Countries were increasingly looking beyond simply ensuring quality control processes in insulation installation and encouraging the development of a workforce that can deliver integrated energy efficiency retrofits.

These findings informed the potential solutions in the consultation paper.

“However, we were cognisant of broader issues when we developed these potential solutions, and recommend that further work be taken to improve integrated building design and construction and retrofit,” say the team.

“While ensuring that insulation is safely and correctly installed will deliver multiple benefits, the full benefits of insulation can only be delivered through integrated design that considers the whole thermal envelope (including glazing and minimising thermal bridging), air tightness and systems for heating, cooling and ventilation.”

Have your say

Read the full version of the consultation paper here. The consultation paper is available for public comment until October 30, 2020.

Written submissions can be sent to consultation@eec.org.au by COB Friday October 30, 2020. The final report is expected to be released at the end of the year.

The EEC and ASBEC will be holding a public information webinar on October 12, 2020, from 3.30-5pm (NSW, Vic, ACT, Tas) | 3-4.30pm (SA) |  2.30-4pm (Qld) | 2-3.30pm (NT) | 12.30-2pm (WA).   

To register for the public workshop, click here.

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