This week, the Australian Building Codes Board released for public consultation the draft National Construction Code 2022 provisions. Climateworks Australia welcomes the provisions as the vital next step towards improving the energy performance of all new homes throughout Australia. 

‘Minimum standards for housing haven’t shifted significantly for over a decade,’ says Climateworks Senior Project Manager Michael Li. ‘For most of Australia, the draft National Construction Code provisions propose that new buildings be designed to a 7 Star NatHERS energy rating, compared to the 6 Star requirement in today’s Code.

‘There is an opportunity now to make sure this proposal is embedded in the National Construction Code from next year.’ 

The Built to Perform report, which Climateworks prepared with the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) in 2018, showed improving the performance of all new homes could lower a household’s energy bills by up to $900 each year, adding up to $20.9 billion in residential energy bill savings between now and 2050. The research found the upfront costs associated with these improvements were small relative to overall construction costs (around three per cent for detached homes), and long-term benefits outweighed any initial costs. 

Our research shows a stronger National Construction Code can reduce total Australian household energy bills by $20.9 billion between now and 2050, or up to $900 each year per household 

Climateworks and ASBEC’s, Built to Perform report

‘Stronger energy requirements in the National Construction Code benefit all new houses and apartments being built,’ says Michael Li. ‘Raising minimum standards means everyone can enjoy lower energy bills when new homes are built, not just those who choose it.’

Currently, only 4.8% of housing is being designed to 7 Stars. A change in the 2022 Code would see the estimated 1.1 million homes expected to be built between 2022 and 2025 designed to this new minimum standard.

‘Our research shows we can’t afford to delay these improvements. If cost-effective changes to the Code are delayed by just three years – for example, implementing changes in the 2025 Code instead of 2022 – we risk locking in $2 billion in household energy bills and 9 million tonnes of emissions to 2030. This would mean more is needed to renovate existing buildings and decarbonise other, more emissions-intensive sectors for Australia to reach net zero emissions.’

Changes to the 2022 Code are part of a commitment by state and territory governments to ‘substantially’ update energy standards in 2022 and 2025, then review these standards every three years to ‘ensure provisions keep pace with changing technologies and changing energy prices to facilitate progress towards zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings’. Climateworks’ Built to Perform research played an important role in securing this long-term commitment from governments.

‘We welcome the chance to support these provisions through the next phases of the process,’ says Michel Li. 

For more information: 

Read our Built to perform report 

Access the draft NCC2022 provisions