National Construction Code: RMIT experts available for comment

National Construction Code: RMIT experts available for comment

RMIT experts are available for comment on the proposed changes in the National Construction Code 2022 for residential dwellings.

Proposed changes to the energy efficiency requirements of the Code will be released for public consultation today. They are a key step towards delivering more sustainable housing.

Experts are available to talk about what the changes mean in practice for new housing.

 

Dr Trivess Moore (0408 318 182 or trivess.moore@rmit.edu.au)

Topics: National Construction Code, energy efficiency, affordability, households

“This will be the most significant revision to the residential construction code since the introduction of 6 star in 2010.

“The likely increase from 6 to 7 stars as a minimum performance requirement is a critical step on the path towards near zero carbon/energy housing.

“An increase from 6 to 7 stars would result in an average reduction in energy for heating and cooling of 24% across Australia.

“The performance of new Australian housing is at least 40% worse than many other developed countries in similar climate zones. While the move to 7 star will close this gap, there is much more that we could be doing right now. Examples like The Cape in Victoria show how we can be delivering to a much higher performance right now.

“Research undertaken at RMIT University found that more than 80% of new housing in Australia is only built to the minimum 6 star standard, with less than 1.5% built to the optimal environmental and economic performance of 7.5 stars demonstrating the need to improve minimum regulatory requirements.

“Increasing the minimum star rating alone will not be enough. There is an issue across the industry with performance not matching design outcomes. Any changes to minimum performance requirements must be accompanied by greater accountability in the building industry to deliver improved outcomes.”

Dr Trivess Moore is a Senior Lecturer in the Sustainable Building Innovation Lab in the School or Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT University. His research explores sustainable housing from a social and technical perspective and the implications on and for households and policy making.

 

Alan Pears AM (0417 005 431 or alan.pears@rmit.edu.au)

Topics: Performance regulations, thermal comfort, energy efficiency, future climate, consumer information

“Australian progress on building energy performance has been overly dependent on regulation as the main driver for the past 30 years.

“Regulation only sets basic minimum standards and provides no reward for innovators and leaders. Regulation is slow to respond to the rapid changes we are facing.

“COVID is driving greater focus on the tensions between indoor air quality, high ventilation rates and energy efficiency. These can be resolved by energy recovery ventilation, which preheats or precools incoming air using exhaust air, or by high efficiency air purifiers.

“The 2019 NCC introduced separate requirements for summer and winter, which was a step forward. 2022 will see updated climate data, but not data reflective of conditions that will exist over the life of a new dwelling. We need much more focus on summer performance. This should include performance in late summer and autumn, when the sun is lower in the sky but extreme heat will be more likely. This will require more focus on adjustable shading.

“New home buyers deserve better information to guide their decisions. For example, existing rating tools can show how each room performs in extreme hot and cold weather. Regulations should require that this information be provided before a buyer signs up.”

Alan Pears AM is a Senior Industry Fellow at RMIT, where he was previously an Adjunct Professor and taught in the environment program. He is a highly regarded analyst, consultant and commentator on sustainable energy and climate policy. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2009 for his contribution to environmental and energy policy.

 

Dr Nicola Willand (0403 692 051 or nicola.willand@rmit.edu.au)

Topics: healthy housing, energy justice, retrofits

“The introduction of minimum accessibility requirements Livable Housing Design ABCB Standard is a welcome addition to the Building Code.

“The Standard includes obligations for corridors and sanitary areas in houses to be wide enough to accommodate walking aids and structural reinforcements in bathroom walls that allow future installations of mobility and lifting aids. These features will make housing safer for everyone and raise awareness for the need for universal design to accommodate people with varied abilities.

“The inclusion of these minimum accessibility requirements is a significant step towards progressing the health and psycho-social benefits of a home by providing better independence for people with certain physical disabilities and older people. It increases much needed supply of housing for people with impaired mobility – about 2.7 million people in Australia. However, it focuses on disability as a physiological condition that is expressed in impaired mobility and is insensitive to the needs of people with mental or sensory impairments.

“This new requirement promises to have economic benefits for householders. Having minimum accessibility requirements built at the construction phase – about $4,000 for a new detached house – removes the need to find suitable accommodation if one is injured or develops impairments as they age. “This new requirement will also have economic benefits for society at large. Considering that Australia’s population is ageing and ageing in place is the preferred (cheaper) form of housing older people under the My Aged Care system, the Livable Housing Design ABCB Standard will also future proof new housing and save later modifications costs that are covered by the public health system.

“The minimum accessibility requirements will be adopted in Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, the ACT and the NT. The rejection by the NSW government is a lost opportunity to help normalise the need to design for all abilities and reinforces social exclusion.”

Dr Nicola Willand is a Lecturer in the School or Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT University, where she teaches a transdisciplinary Housing and Health course. Her research aims to develop strategies that will minimise environmental impacts and life cycle costs while maximising health and social equity in the built environment. She is a member of Health, Place and Society research team, the Healthy Liveable Cities Lab and the Sustainable Building Innovation Lab.

 

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For interviews, contact the experts directly on their above details.

For general media enquiries, contact RMIT Communications: 0439 704 077 or news@rmit.edu.au

30 August 2021

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