Timber frames of a new house being constructed

Building Ministers also discussed ways to increase adoption of new products, innovation and technology in the sector, and agreed to the 2024-25 Business Plan for the Australian Building Codes Board.

Climate Resilience and the Transition to Net Zero

Ministers collectively recognised the need to make Australia’s buildings more resilient to extreme weather events driven by climate change. As a first step, Ministers agreed to include climate resilience as a specific objective of the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) from 2025. This will give the ABCB a clear mandate to develop future National Construction Code (NCC) requirements that reduce the impact of natural disasters on housing and other critical community facilities. This is in response to a recommendation from the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

Ministers noted that this provides direction to industry without imposing any new regulatory requirements in NCC 2025. 

Ministers agreed that the ABCB will proactively consult with industry, government and community stakeholders ahead of any future NCC changes that address climate resilience to ensure these changes are made in ways that are practical, cost effective and fit-for-purpose. Ministers expect that over time, these changes should lead to fewer Australians being displaced, and lower rebuilding and recovery costs for Australian communities, following a natural disaster. 

Ministers also agreed to include a voluntary pathway in NCC 2025 for commercial buildings to measure and report on embodied carbon utilising the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) method.  Ministers also asked the ABCB to investigate how to incorporate and fund inclusion of a future minimum standard for embodied carbon in NCC 2028 to further support Australia’s transition to net zero.

Ministers acknowledged the productive discussions that were held with industry representatives at a Building Ministers’ Industry Dialogue on 3 May 2024, where industry representatives shared views on the opportunities and challenges in our transition to a net zero built environment and accelerating innovation and productivity across the sector. Ministers heard that upgrades to existing building stock should be a key focus of transitioning to a net zero built environment.

Enhancing Building Industry Capability and Capacity

Building Ministers demonstrated their ongoing commitment to quality in the building sector. They agreed to further the implementation of the Building Confidence Report by considering a national scheme supporting the safety and reliability of building products. The advice presented to Building Ministers identified an opportunity to improve safety and generate an economic benefit of up to $2.4 billion per year through improved certainty of decisions and reliability of product quality and safety in Australia.

This will help industry and consumers understand whether the products they are choosing or installing are safe and fit for purpose. 

Ministers received an update on joint work being undertaken by the ABCB and the Building 4.0 Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) to support growth in the use of prefabricated and modular construction. The ABCB reported on development of a new Handbook to clarify existing regulatory pathways. Ministers noted the ongoing engagement the ABCB and the BMM chair are having with industry to support greater use of prefabricated and modular construction methods in Australia to support the National Housing Accord’s commitment of 1.2 million new homes by 2029.

Ministers discussed the current state of the construction sector, including a range of measures to boost skilled workers announced in the 2024-25 Australian Government budget.

Australian Building Codes Board 

Ministers agreed in-principle to a draft version of the 2025-2030 Intergovernmental Agreement including funding to provide certainty for the future operations and strategic direction of the ABCB.

Ministers also discussed and agreed to the ABCB Business Plan for 2024-2025. Over the next 12 months, the ABCB will be prioritising activities that support faster delivery of housing supply, including reducing red tape to enable increased use of compliant and fit for purpose prefabricated and modular construction methods. The ABCB will be preparing for the release of the next iteration of the NCC including condensation management, waterproofing and water shedding, and changes to evidence of suitability requirements.

Next Building Ministers Meeting

Ministers agreed to hold the next BMM in November and convene an Industry Dialogue in late October.