Resources on the 2022 National Construction Code

Submissions are now open on the 2022 update of the National Construction Code (NCC). The update is a major opportunity to lift the energy performance of newly built homes across Australia – meaning lower energy bills, healthier homes, less pressure on the grid, and less carbon emissions.

This page provides background information and resources for people and community groups making submissions on the NCC. We will keep this updated with any new information or links – please email info@renew.org.au if you have resources you would like us to share.

Background

The National Construction Code (NCC) sets the minimum energy efficiency standards for new buildings and major renovations in Australia. It is updated every 3 years, with the next update due to come into effect in September 2022.

Australia is overdue for better building standards. It is over a decade since the current 6-star minimum NatHERS rating was introduced. Since that time, Australia’s performance has only fallen further behind comparable countries, where the energy efficiency of new buildings is typically up to 40% better than Australia.

Pressure for change has been steadily growing. On the back of years of advocacy from community groups and progressive industry, in 2019 ministers tasked the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) with drafting improved energy standards for the 2022 NCC update. The update was delayed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, but a draft of the 2022 NCC has now been published for public comment.

What is being proposed?

Two major changes to energy efficiency policy are being proposed:

  • Increasing minimum NatHERS ratings for new homes from 6 Stars to 7 Stars
  • Introducing an ‘energy budget’ that sets an overall limit for energy used by fixed appliances. This budget can be offset with onsite renewables and is measured by the ‘social cost’ of energy, including carbon emissions.

If implemented, these will be a significant win for households. Lifting the minimum NatHERS rating to 7 Stars would cut the energy needed to heat and cool homes by 20-25%. Renew modelling and the government’s own analysis find that households will be financially better off under the change, with energy bill savings bigger than the cost of upfront improvements. Research by ClimateWorks Australia and ASBEC finds that delaying cost-effective improvements to energy efficiency requirements in the Code would cost $2 billion in wasted household energy bills to 2030, while locking in 9 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

These are important improvements that must be delivered in the 2022 NCC. Renew has furthermore argued for action to bring new homes up to scratch beyond the proposed changes, including net zero emissions homes, further increases in minimum NatHERS ratings, and an end to new gas connections.

A range of other technical changes are proposed. These include requirements for apartment buildings to be ready for renewables and EV charging; condensation management provisions; and changes to compliance and verification.

Making a submission

Two related public consultation processes are happening simultaneously.

First, submissions on a public comment draft of the NCC close on 17 October 2021. This is the key opportunity to provide technical input to the draft Code provisions and nominate changes. Submissions must nominate the technical section of the draft NCC that is being commented on. For new energy efficiency requirements, key sections include:

  • Volume 2, H6P1 (page 126): sets a minimum thermal efficiency standard for detached homes of 7 Stars NatHERS (or equivalent)
  • Volume 2, H6P2 (page 126): sets a maximum energy use budget for detached homes that can be offset by installing solar PV
  • Volume 1, J1P2 (page 423): sets a minimum thermal efficiency standard for apartments of 7 Stars NatHERS (or equivalent)
  • Volume 1, J1P3 (page 423): sets a maximum energy use budget for apartments; less stringent than the budget for detached homes due to greater difficulty of installing solar PV

Renew has provided a submission resource with responses to these sections. Community members are invited to draw on this resource if useful in making a submission.

Second, submissions on the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (an economic analysis of the impacts of proposed changes) close on 7 November 2021. This is the key opportunity to comment on the social, environmental and economic benefits of change to the Code. Further information and resources will be provided on this page.

What’s next?

Following ABCB consultation, a final decision on the updated NCC will be made by state, territory, and Commonwealth governments. This will be made in around March 2022 at the Building Ministers Meeting. The new Code will be released by May 2022 and come into effect in September 2022. State and territory jurisdictions are then responsible for implementation.

Links and Resources

ABCB Consultation Hub – full documents and submission portal

Simple submission to the NCC public comment draft (provided by Renew)

Special Briefing: energy efficiency in the National Construction Code 2022 – video of webinar hosted by Renew 16/9/2021

Households Better Off: lowering energy bills with the 2022 National Construction Code – Renew report modelling the financial impact of change for households

Build To Perform – research on societal benefits by ClimateWorks Australia and ASBEC

Community petition for net zero homes in the NCC

Net zero emissions for National Construction Code – community campaign site

The National Construction Code in 2 minutes – Sweltering Cities (video)

Better building standards are good for the climate, your health, and your wallet. Here’s what the National Construction Code could do better – The Conversation (article)

Changes to the building code could shave years off your home loan – Fifth Estate (article)