Insulation Australasia supports the call for stronger energy standards for residential housing and buildings under Australia’s National Construction Code to help achieve the zero net emissions objective. Representing the Australasian insulation industry, the trade association believes stronger standards would benefit consumers as well as the environment, by ensuring more comfortable, energy efficient homes and buildings.

Insulation Australasia Chair Scott Gibson comments that a revised building code that is geared towards a zero net emissions economy in 2050 will ensure certainty for the industry now, with slight increases in construction costs to be more than offset by the long-term energy savings. Observing that the path to net zero began with more airtight buildings and improving the building envelope, he said that the insulation industry was ready to play its part in meeting this critical challenge.

A new report prepared by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and Climate Works Australia, has called on the Building Ministers Forum and the COAG Energy Council to commit to a ‘Zero Carbon Ready’ code to be implemented across the building sector. The report calls for greater stringency in energy regulations to be introduced in the 2022 Code, with a strong focus on residential, and further incremental increases noted for the non-residential sector.

The report, Built to Perform, also asks for the Code to be broadened to meet future sustainability challenges and to provide certainty to industry with clear targets and processes, encouraging investment in more energy efficient buildings. The changes would be a crucial part of meeting Australia’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, the report stated.

Asking for immediate action, Mr Gibson said governments must agree to clear targets and update the Code out to 2030, he said.

He said that plugging the energy gaps in home and building construction will allow consumers and the environment to reap the benefits. The building sector can reduce emissions by more than half right now with the introduction of improved levels of energy efficiency.

According to Mr Gibson, this pathway starts with the building fabric through improved insulation and glazing, followed by optimising services and appliances. Though the technology is available, strong policies and urgent action by Federal, State and Territory governments are critical including establishing a national plan, creating targeted incentives, and ensuring a stronger construction code is introduced and enforced.

The report found that even the most conservative improvements in Code energy efficiency requirements could deliver between 19 and 25 per cent of the energy savings required to achieve net zero energy in new residential buildings, up to 34 per cent of the savings for commercial sector buildings, and up to 56 per cent for public sector buildings.

Achieving these targets could reduce household bills by up to $900 per year for each household, while saving thousands of dollars each year across a non-residential building. All of these outcomes could help save billions on energy costs by 2030.

The Report also calls for expansion of the scope of the Code to progress complementary measures, and to prepare for future sustainability challenges and opportunities, including health, peak demand, maintainability, electric vehicles and embodied carbon.

Insulation Australasia, which represents Australian and New Zealand insulation manufacturers, fabricators and installers, is a member of the Energy Efficiency and Emissions Task Group established by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) to develop a national plan to achieve net zero emissions across the building sector.