17 September 2023

Federal software issue delays accessibility, energy efficiency requirements for new builds

| Claire Fenwicke
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builder on site with hammer

The ACT’s building and construction industry has more time to learn about new energy efficiency and accessibility requirements for new builds. Photo: File.

New conditions for the building and construction industry to improve the energy efficiency and accessibility of new Canberra builds have been pushed back three months.

The requirements were originally slated to come into effect in October, but have now been put on hold until 15 January, 2024.

Sustainable Building and Construction Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said this was due to circumstances outside of the ACT Government’s control.

“The software to measure energy ratings under the new House Energy Rating Scheme has not been delivered by the Commonwealth Government,” she said.

“Because of this, we have had to change the timing around the implementation of the National Construction Code in the ACT.”

Looking at the silver lining, Ms Vassarotti said this would give the industry a greater opportunity to familiarise itself with the new software and undergo training to ensure Canberra’s building designs meet the 7-star energy efficiency and whole-of-home energy use provisions.

“Let me make it clear, as the responsible minister, I am committed to implementing the updated National Construction Code in full,” she said.

“While not required until January 2024, those buildings which are currently being designed to meet the new NCC 2022 energy efficiency and liveable housing standards will exceed the existing requirements and can still be approved under existing arrangements.”

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Master Builders Association ACT CEO Michael Hopkins said this was a logical extension to make.

“It wasn’t going to be practical [for the ACT to move forward] when the energy assessment and accreditation software hadn’t been updated,” he said.

“Now developers, builders and certifiers can now move forward and know they have more time to get ready.”

The new requirements include:

  • Residential energy efficiency (increasing the minimum level of thermal performance of new homes to the equivalent of 7 stars and a new whole-of-home energy use budget)
  • New and improved condensation management provisions
  • Commercial building energy efficiency (requiring certain buildings to have features that facilitate the future installation of on-site renewables and electric vehicle charging)
  • Liveable housing design – introducing requirements to improve accessibility now and making it easier and cheaper to adapt houses in the future to be more accessible.

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The National Construction Code is amended every three years by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), which conducts extensive industry and community engagement to inform each new amendment, and is then adopted by the states and territories.

Only the ACT and Queensland had committed to adopting everything by the start of October, with other jurisdictions choosing to not take up the 7-star ratings or opting for longer adoption timeframes.

Visit Build Buy Renovate for more information about the implementation of the NCC 2022 in the ACT.

To learn more about the National Construction Code, and the consultation undertaken by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to inform NCC 2022, visit Australian Building Codes Board.

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Linda Seaniger3:04 pm 18 Sep 23

It’s all good and will for the ACT government to insist on a seven star rating, but on completion of the dwelling if nobody physically tests the project to ensure that the build meets the seven star requirement, then it’s just a paper figure for approval. You’ll never achieve the performance rating because builders in the ACT do not have the ability or the desire to achieve the required performance standard and checks are never conducted. Total waste of money.

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