How Will NCC Changes Affect Sustainable Construction?

Society is paying more attention to eco-friendly measures, but the relaxed energy-efficiency requirements that form part of the proposed National Construction Code (NCC) 2016 could impede the sustainable construction movement. Read on to understand the potential changes and their implications.

NCC Relaxes Energy-Efficiency Requirements

Suggested NCC changes aim to make it easier for project proponents to provide innovative solutions in different buildings. Rather than the existing “deemed to satisfy” approach to energy compliance, new requirements promote a performance-based approach. Under the proposed NCC, a Class 2 multi-residential building would face a similar energy and thermal assessment regime as a Class 5 commercial building. Currently, each individual apartment must receive a five-star NatHERS rating, and the whole building must get a six-star rating. Under new requirements, the building must still get a six-star rating, but individual apartments would not be assessed. So this overall rating could be achieved if some apartments are below standard, simply because others are outstanding. The new NCC also eliminates the objectives for reducing greenhouse emissions and the functional statements for achieving them included in the 2015 code.

Implications for Sustainable Construction

According to a group of sustainable building experts, led by Darren O’Dea, the proposed regulations will allow clients to approve a reduced level of energy efficiency in new construction projects. His group fears architecture and engineering firms will find clients asking for reduced efficiency measures to save money in the short-term.

Will the Changes Pass?

At this point it’s uncertain whether the proposed changes will become part of the new NCC. Mr O’Dea and his group submitted their concerns during a consultation period. Building sustainability expert Alan Pears also encouraged the Australian Building Codes Board to defer implementation of the changes. If the concerns of sustainable building experts are correct, the proposed NCC regulations could severely impact the eco-credentials of new Australian constructions. The Australian Building Codes Board closed its consultation period on August 3. It’s currently reviewing feedback on its NCC 2016 draft. TPM Builders prides itself on finding cost-effective strategies for energy-efficient construction. Contact us today to learn more about sustainable design and construct. ©Image via Flickr by John Englart (Takver)