Fulfilling a COAG commitment, changes are to be made to the 2010 Building Code of Australia to increase the energy efficiency of new buildings.

The Building Ministers’ Forum, comprising Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers responsible for buildings policy, recently agreed to the measures.

The new commercial building standards will be implemented to begin in May 2010. The States and Territories will implement the new residential standards no later than May 2011.

The new energy efficiency standards are part of a suite of proposals under the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency. Minimum requirements for residential buildings will rise from five stars to six.

Concessions will be available to residential buildings in warmer climates that incorporate a covered outdoor living area.

Kim Carr, Innovation Minister Senator and Penny Wong, Acting Environment Minister, have confirmed the changes with the Senator explaining that the new requirements will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

“The Rudd Government will continue to consult closely with industry and review the effectiveness of the new measures,” Senator Carr said.

Senator Wong explained that a newly formed Built Environment Sustainability Roundtable, announced by Minister Garrett last year, will ensure that the industry is consulted on present and future building energy efficiency measures.

“Whole of house or whole of building methodologies and alternative solutions such as incorporating on-site renewable energy technologies will be explored by the roundtable as a means of creating greater flexibility in meeting the requirements,” Senator Wong said.

Further information regarding the energy efficiency standards can be obtained from Australian Building Codes Board .