If you think energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases are just feel-good statements that don’t really affect your projects – then think again.
Significant changes to the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC) commenced across Australia last month (1 May 2019). The primary target is improved energy efficiency for commercial buildings, and to a lesser extent, residential buildings. The priority is airtight buildings with good solar passive design principles like shading glass façades from direct sunlight.
Will these changes reduce greenhouse gases produced by buildings? Undoubtedly.
Will buildings under NCC 2019 cost more to construct? Probably, although it’s too early to tell.
Will there be energy savings (lower running costs and energy bills) over the life of the new buildings? Yes, improvements of at least 25% are anticipated.
Whether you’re a builder, developer, architect, engineer or building certifier, you need to consider the changes to the NCC, and what it will mean to your project. Many of the changes have the potential to exceed the sustainability criteria currently imposed by Councils.
The changes to the NCC are aimed at delivering projects which are 25 to 30% more energy efficient than a building constructed under the 2016. The target is for all new projects to be carbon neutral by 2030. Following are key NCC points for commercial and residential buildings.
For Commercial Buildings
- There is a focus on stricter provisions to achieve energy savings for commercial buildings (Class 2, 3, and 5 to 9 structures)
- Improvements to the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions (clearer requirements)
- A ‘whole façade’ performance method (rather than separate targets for glazing and walls) will be introduced.
- The minimum performance requirements to be increased and quantified
- Basic levels of comfort for building occupants will be included
- Thermal bridging requirements to be improved
- Ventilation and air-conditioning systems’ efficiency to be increased
- More consideration of on-site renewable energy (such as photovoltaics)
- JV3 standards to be improved
- NatHERS Energy Rating and Green Star Certification recognised as verification methods
For Residential Buildings
- Aims to achieve energy savings of up to 10 per cent
- Applies to residential buildings (Class 1 buildings, sole-occupancy units of Class 2 buildings and Class 4 parts of a building)
- Aims to simplify the code to improve readability for ease of compliance
- Ensures buildings operate well year-round the heating and cooling load limits now separated
- Addition of star rating by Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS)
- There are new verification methods for building envelope sealing
It’s important to note that there is a one year ‘transition period’, meaning there is a window (until 30 April 2020) to apply the NCC 2016 provisions, rather than the 2019 provisions.
If you’re planning to start a new project any time soon, you need to know about the NCC changes. Take the time to discuss the implications with your design team, and make sure the new requirements can be considered in the design.
For more details, please contact our Project Urban Town Planning team on 5443 2844.