Australia’s current national emissions reduction target is to reduce emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Australia has committed to the goal of reducing global emissions to net zero emissions and to five yearly reviews of the national target starting from 2020, with the requirement that new pledges be higher than the previous pledge and reflect the highest possible level of ambition. The built environment can significantly contribute to the emission reductions that Australia has committed to, as it makes up for almost a quarter of national emissions and represents one of the largest and lowest cost opportunities for abatement.
The National Construction Code is an important tool to influence emissions reductions in the built environment, providing the opportunity to influence two critical points at which the energy performance of buildings is determined: design & construction and major refurbishment. The last increases in the energy performance requirements of the Code were made in 2010, and there is currently a window of opportunity to pursue the upgrade of minimum standards at the scheduled 2019 Code update, which could deliver significant emissions reductions and avoid lock-in of poorly-performing buildings in the future.
This Issues Paper is the first step in a three stage project led by ASBEC to drive improvements in the National Construction Code (NCC). The Issues Paper sets out how the NCC currently operates and outlines a range of potential improvements. The Issues Paper is intended to support multi-stakeholder discussions taking place in 2016 to identify and progress potential improvements to the NCC. Improvements to the NCC may be implemented through the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), through the Council of Australian Governments’ Building Ministers Forum or through other policy processes, and this project is intended to support and assist these government processes by coordinating industry and expert input.
This Issues Paper covers the following issues and potential areas for improvement in the NCC:
Option 1: Establish a trajectory for future upgrades to the NCC, in order to provide greater certainty and reduce the regulatory burden of code revisions on industry.
Option 2: Review and improve the NCC compliance mechanisms, for example by setting up a standardised and common methodology for the ‘modelled performance solutions’ compliance mechanism or introducing post-construction requirements.
Option 3: Increase the stringency of the NCC energy performance requirements in the short term, for both residential and commercial buildings, or identifying further work needed to establish whether stringency should be increased.
Option 4: Other potential improvements, such as introducing post-construction requirements such as an air-leakage test, by better utilising rating tools as compliance pathways, or by facilitating the use of cloud computing and smartphone technology to make the code easier to access and comply with.