In 2019, the National Construction Code (NCC) is going through an enormous modernisation process of changes and adjustments to the previous (2016) edition. Included in the changes are modifications to readability, quantification, condensation management and energy efficiency. Section J is undergoing significant improvements to help curb rising greenhouse gas emissions. The energy efficiency of residential and commercial building will be improved by the moves which will affect a range of sustainability certification criterion, so if you’re planning to start a new project any time soon, you need to know about the changes. The NCC 2019 will come into effect from May 1, 2019, and energy efficiency provisions will have a one-year transition period, up to May 1, May 2020.
The Section J Report
It’s called either a Section J, or Part J report, and it outlines the energy efficiency requirements for a Class 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9 commercial building, defined by Section J (or Part J) of Volume One of the National Construction Code (NCC). This used to be called the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
Why the Changes?
After some significant research by the Australian Building Construction Board (ABCB), Australian government bodies responded by including them in a broader strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the energy efficiency of the country’s buildings by 40 per cent by 2030. The proposed changes are also meant to provide more pliancy on verification choices to include the National Australian Building Rating System (NABERS) Certified Energy and Green Star to affirm compliance.
What Exactly Are the Coming Changes?
There are two components of the proposed changes:
Commercial Buildings – there will be a focus on stricter provisions to achieve energy savings of up to 53 per cent. For commercial buildings – Class 2, 3, and 5 to 9 structures – the changes will include:
- For better readability there will be improvements to the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions.
- 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.
- NABERS Energy Rating and Green Star Certification as recognised verification methods to be added.
Residential Buildings – To achieve energy savings of up to 10 per cent, the current provisions will be increased. For residential buildings (Class 1 buildings, sole-occupancy units of Class 2 buildings and Class 4 parts of a building), the aim a simplifying of the code to improve the readability for ease of compliance with performance requirements. Specific improvements will include:
- To ensure buildings operate well year-round the heating and cooling load limits will be separated. This is in addition to the requirement by Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) of star rating.
- There are new verification methods for building envelope sealing.
How These Changes Will Affect You
These new changes will help those involved in the building industry to comply satisfactorily with the requirements of energy efficiency rules and, in a cost-effective way, gain higher energy savings. It’s expected the building industry will benefit from the changes and many see 2019 as an exciting year as the sector improves energy efficiency, adheres to the new requirements, adapts and grows.
The ABCB has set up orientation seminars in Melbourne to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on March 13 and 14, 2019. All those involved with approval, design, or building construction are encouraged to enrol. Presentations are to be held in all the capital cities so those affected can learn about the changes. Standards Australia is also billed to explain changes to Australian Standards referenced in the NCC. At the end of the seminars, webcasts with a video on amendments to NCC Volume Three (PCA), will be released in May 2019. For questions, contact Loud Events on (07) 3868 2882.
Australia is usually not at the forefront of prioritising airtight buildings with good solar passive design principles, but better energy efficiency isn’t only about the environment, lower energy bills and running costs. There is a financial reward, of course, but it is also a great joy to live in an eco home with comfortable temperatures all year round and a much-reduced need for mechanical heating and cooling. And smarter design doesn’t mean high costs. At Greenhive, we can deliver an outstanding home for much the same price as a traditional low-performing house. Call us on 0433 987 507, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for Vergola NSW.