A new report presents the preliminary results of a broader project that quantifies the opportunities of establishing a clear and consistent long-term plan for the Building Code’s energy requirements.

According to the report from Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia, Australia can cost-effectively strengthen residential energy efficiency standards in the Code and cut heating and cooling energy use by up to 51 percent.

The Bottom Line – household impacts of delaying improved energy requirements in the Building Code report shows that savings could come from simple energy efficiency improvements such as air tightness, ceiling fans, and roof insulation.

The Australian Building Codes Board has released a proposal to update the Code’s energy requirements for 2019. This includes improvements to the requirements for housing, but there is no proposal to strengthen the required level of energy efficiency for homes.

“We welcome the proposed improvements in the non-residential energy requirements,” says Tony Arnel, president of the Energy Efficiency Council and chair of ASBEC’s National Construction Code Working Group.  

“If implemented, these changes could deliver significant energy and emissions benefits in the non-residential sector. The draft changes for residential buildings are also a good start. However, our report demonstrates that greater opportunities exists to improve residential performance.”

“Low energy homes put less stress on the electricity grid. If just one household makes efficiency improvements and cuts their peak demand by one kilowatt (kW) – the power used to run a small oil heater –  this would save almost $1,000 in electricity system infrastructure, reducing electricity prices for everyone.”

“In total, the proposed changes could save an estimated $1.2 billion to 2050 through avoided and deferred network investments.”

But as ClimateWorks program manager, Eli Court notes, “[the] study considered only simple, ‘lowest common denominator’ energy efficiency improvements”.

“As leading building practitioners have shown us, with best practice design for energy efficiency, such as attention to building orientation and window sizing and placement, further low-cost improvements in energy efficiency are possible,” she says.

The Bottom Line – household impacts of delaying improved energy requirements in the Building Code can be downloaded here.