Building Ministers’ Meeting: Communiqué March 2022

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28 March 2022

Commonwealth, state and territory Building Ministers met today to discuss residential energy efficiency and building readiness for emerging technologies and accessible housing provisions for the 2022 edition of the National Construction Code (NCC) and the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) Strategic Plan 2022.  

Ministers met with industry representatives to discuss how building standards can assist residential energy efficiency provisions which are expected in modern homes. Ministers welcomed the opportunity to hear industry perspectives on possible changes with the NCC 2022.

Building Ministers acknowledged the difficulties that industry is experiencing following the devastating floods, supply chain problems, and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Timber supply chains in the flood areas have also been disrupted. Early estimates indicate that thousands of dwellings and businesses will need rebuilding or require substantial repairs.

Residential Energy Efficiency

Building Ministers received an update on the work of the ABCB in preparing improved residential energy efficiency provisions for NCC 2022. The ABCB advised Ministers that analysis is nearing completion and there are opportunities to improve residential energy efficiency with a net benefit to households in most parts of the country.

Building Ministers have provided direction to the ABCB to finalise its work as soon as possible and bring forward final advice mid-year for Ministers to make a final decision.

The work of the ABCB was initiated in mid-2019 at the request of Energy and Building Ministers. Ministers are pursuing these improvements as part of a broader national effort to manage cost of living pressures for households, while making a strong positive contribution to decarbonising our economy.

Residential energy efficiency requirements have not increased since 2010. Ministers identified there are community expectations for both energy efficiency and accessibility in modern homes. It is important for all sectors of the economy to contribute to emissions reduction measures, including the building and construction industry. This is an area where change is needed, as part of emissions reduction measures across all sectors to achieve national policy objectives to reduce Australia’s emissions to net zero by 2050, while growing our economy and supporting jobs.

Building Ministers also received an update on the work being developed to incorporate Distributed Energy Resources (DER) including roughing-in for solar PV energy systems, battery storage and bi-directional charging for electric vehicles.

Several rounds of consultation have informed the work of the ABCB and a formal Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) is being finalised. Ministers will consider the Decision RIS and other relevant policy issues before determining their final policy position.

The ABCB received many submissions during consultation processes, and final responses to these submissions have been published. However, Ministers have asked the ABCB to prepare an interim consultation report that highlights where consultations have improved the analysis and measurement of impacts on the proposed changes to the NCC.

Ministers also recognised the continued positive engagement of industry with this issue and the other work of the ABCB. Ministers received advice about the significant volume of change associated with the upcoming release of the 2022 edition of the NCC. Ministers have asked the ABCB and senior officials from all jurisdictions to work together on a draft plan for a coordinated transition and implementation of NCC 2022, to address the concerns of industry. Ministers expect that advice to be provided by the end of June 2022.

To contribute to a modern homes agenda, Ministers noted the timeframe for advice on inclusion of these measures and noted the opportunity to incorporate these as part of a package for implementation, potentially concurrently with energy efficiency measures, subject to the benefit-cost analysis.  

ABCB Strategic Plan 2022

The ABCB unanimously agreed to the ABCB Strategic Plan 2022 at its meeting on 9 November 2021. The Strategic Plan presented to Building Ministers sets out the Board’s proposed vision; strategic objectives and performance measures; principles of operation; and governance framework.

Building Ministers unanimously agreed to endorse the ABCB Strategic Plan 2022.

Next BMM

Ministers agreed to meet again in July 2022 to discuss the Decision RIS, NCC 2022, ABCB Business Plan, ABCB Intergovernmental Agreement and the Industry Representative appointment.

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