Timber frames of a new house being constructed

Commonwealth, state and territory Building Ministers met today to discuss upgraded energy efficiency provisions for residential buildings, implementation and transition timeframes for the 2022 edition of the National Construction Code (NCC), the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) Business Plan, funding and Intergovernmental Agreement, and Board Appointments.

Ministers also discussed market capacity in the building, construction and maintenance sectors and progress with consideration of a Building Product Assurance Framework stemming from the Building Confidence Report.

NCC 2022

After acknowledging the extensive input from key building industry and advocacy stakeholders over several years, Ministers considered the Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS) prepared by the ABCB on upgraded residential energy efficiency provisions and agreed to include those provisions in NCC 2022. Building new energy efficient homes supports the economy’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

The key changes are adopting a minimum standard of 7 stars and the introduction of an annual energy use budget. For the average new home, achieving a 7 star rating may require elements like better insulation, higher quality glazing and smarter floor plans. Meeting the annual energy use budget requires consideration of the efficiency of the appliances used in new homes and roof top solar and batteries. While this will differ from house to house depending on factors like climate, orientation and construction materials, Ministers recognised that overall these changes will improve amenity and drive down energy bills in new homes.

NCC 2022 will also deliver a new livability standard to increase the stock of homes with accessibility features and support Australians with mobility limitations to transition through life stages in their own homes.

Ministers considered the ABCB and senior officials’ advice for a coordinated transition and implementation of NCC 2022. They gave serious consideration to the benefits that energy efficiency and livable (accessible) housing provisions will bring to Australian households, and to ensuring industry is adequately prepared to deliver these changes.

Ministers decided NCC 2022 will be available from 1 October 2022 for those who wish to use the new provisions. NCC 2022 will commence on 1 May 2023, with a transition period to 1 October 2023 for the Modern Homes provisions for energy efficiency, condensation mitigation and livable (accessible) housing.

Ministers recognised that individual jurisdictions may make modifications to implementation to address local circumstances such as condensation, renewable energy capacity and local climatic conditions.

The transitional arrangements will provide time for industry to adjust, noting the pressures experienced in recent times. The ABCB and jurisdictions will work with industry on a communication and engagement strategy to support the industry’s implementation of energy efficiency, condensation mitigation and livable (accessible) housing.

ABCB Business Plan and Board appointments

Ministers endorsed the ABCB’s Business Plan 2022-23 and agreed to extend the appointments of the Chair, Ms. Glenys Beauchamp PSM, and industry representative, Ms Kristin Brookfield.

Market Capacity

Ministers acknowledged the difficult market capacity issues facing the industry. Ministers asked state and territory senior building officials, the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, and the ABCB, to investigate factors constraining market capacity such as supply chains and workforce, with the view to consider options to bolster capacity in key areas.

Electric Vehicles

Ministers acknowledged the NCC 2022 energy efficiency provisions will make it easier for people living in apartments to make the switch to an electric vehicle, by providing base infrastructure for future cabling and control point installation at the time of construction.

Ministers tasked the ABCB to take this work further by working with other relevant agencies to ensure future buildings are ready to support energy transition by making electric vehicle charging easy and safe, including enabling further uptake of distributed energy and storage. The ABCB will report back on this matter at the next BMM.

Next BMM

Ministers agreed to meet in early 2023, with the timing of the meeting to be decided out of session.