It is now established that energy use in buildings is a significant source of global greenhouse gas emissions and that abatement by the building sector can provide significant social, economic and environmental benefits. This paper examines the application of socio-technical transition theory to the building sector with Australian energy policy as a case study. The relatively high level of local building construction offers significant opportunities for market transition with appropriate policy settings so this national case has international implications. Evolution of building energy efficiency standards through the Australian National Construction Code is scrutinized by benchmarking the building energy code against international best practice. The benchmarking underscores the contribution high performance energy efficient buildings could make to a low carbon transition with appropriate policy settings. Specifically government intervention in the building sector through direct regulation was shown to have substantial potential to effect this transition. Nevertheless, such intervention has proven to be politically controversial in Australia. The paper provides a twofold contribution to research in the domain of building energy policy. Firstly, by making the connection between transition theory and the role of building energy codes; secondly, by demonstrating the practical application and utility of a structured building code benchmarking process.