Air-Cell has released some guidelines that warn specifiers and builders to make sure their insulation conforms to the latest stipulations of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) 2005.

Under the BCA 2005, effective 1 May 2005, all insulation products must comply with a single insulation standard – AS/NZS 4859.1. And now that other standards are no longer accepted for BCA compliance, there is concern amongst consumers and industry that not all insulation products comply with the new standard.

Here are Air-Cell’s questions and answers designed to guide specifiers through the recent changes and what to look out for.

What is AS/NZS 4859.1? AS/NZS 4859.1 is a building standard that covers testing and material manufacturing requirements for all insulation products, and was developed in response to industry requests for a standard that includes a wide range of insulation products, from conventional bulk insulation to reflective foil-based insulation. The standard also requires that testing and calculations be performed to include all the factors that would affect performance in the installed environment, such as compression and temperature.

When does this standard become compulsory for insulation products? As of 1 May 2005, this standard became compulsory for all insulation products under BCA 2005 and supersedes the previous standard AS2464. Certificates from insulation manufacturers stating compliance to AS2464 are no longer valid and cannot be accepted as evidence that compliance with the BCA provisions has been achieved.

Do all insulation products comply with AS/NZS 4859.1? No. Unfortunately, not all insulation products comply with AS/NZS 4859.1. In considering insulation materials, building designers, architects, and builders alike should ask for independent certification to AS/NZS 4859.1 for peace of mind.

How can I identify if an insulation product is independently certified to comply with AS/NZS 4859.1? Look for a Conformance Mark on the packaging. This symbol guarantees that the insulation product is certified by an accredited and independent assurance organisation to comply with AS/NZS 4859.1. Benchmark, which issues Conformance Mark, and SAI Global are the only organisations accredited to independently certify insulation products for compliance to AS/NZS 4859.1.

Among the very few manufacturers that currently have independent certification to AS/NZS 4859.1 is Air-Cell Insulation.

Can an insulation manufacturer use self-assessed data to claim compliance with AS/NZS 4859.1? Yes, but architects and designers are urged to demand independent certification showing compliance to AS/NZS 4859.1. Consumer and industry concerns have been raised in recent times over claims that insulation products do not meet their stated performance on their packaging. At the request of the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO), BRANZ recently tested random samples of insulation products and determined that there were large discrepancies in performance ranging from +9 per cent to -46 per cent between stated R-values on the packaging and actual performance when tested to AS/NZS 4859.1¹. Independent certification ensures unbiased, third-party assessment of testing data, which means consumers can trust that they are getting what they paid for.

¹ “Compliance of Thermal Insulation for Energy Efficiency”, Advisory Notice: Building, Department of Transport and Urban Planning of South Australia (March 2005).