The National Energy Efficient Building Project (NEEBP) commenced in 2012 with the aim of supporting consumers, government and industry to achieve better energy efficiency in new buildings, renovations and additions.
The NEEBP is led by the Government of South Australia’s Department of State Development and is co-funded by all Australian states and territories through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council.
In 2015, the COAG Energy Council agreed to a National Energy Productivity Plan, which recognises that improving our national energy productivity will be important in delivering greater value from the energy that Australians use. This will also help consumers manage their energy costs and reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this plan, the Council will continue supporting the NEEBP.
In 2013, Pitt & Sherry and Swinburne University of Technology undertook a national review of key systemic or process weaknesses or points of non-compliance with the energy efficiency requirements in the National Construction Code (NCC). Swinburne also explored the contribution of knowledge management to building energy performance and Code compliance. Working with key building industry stakeholders, regulators and policy makers across Australia and considering all classes of buildings, the consulting team found that most concerns raised focussed on residential buildings.
All new homes or extensions built in Australia are required to meet six-star energy efficiency requirements in the NCC or in state and territory variations to the code. A major finding from the report was that most stakeholders believe that under-compliance with building energy efficiency is widespread, implying that buildings in Australia have higher energy use, higher emissions and higher overall costs for building owners and occupants than necessary.
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Several high priority recommendations of the NEEBP Report are being progressed through Commonwealth, state and industry policy and research initiatives. NEEBP phase two focussed on projects with immediate 'on ground' demonstration and information gathering value.
More than 20 local government authorities trialled ‘as built’ inspection and document control processes across all Australian climate zones and in residential growth areas.
The tools developed during NEEBP phase two will remain available for voluntary trialling by industry and regulators during 2016. The NEEBP team will continue to work through 2016 with pilot councils and industry experts to integrate these tools into a web-based compliance product easily accessible to industry and regulators.
NEEBP phase two projects were funded by Commonwealth, state and territory governments. The opinions expressed and any errors or omissions in the reports are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of South Australia, or Commonwealth, state or territory governments.
Pilot project one: New home energy efficiency compliance inspections
Lead consultants, Healthy Environs, in association with Sustain SA, Dsquared Consulting and Leading Edge Town Planners, developed an ‘as built’ inspection process that could be used to validate compliance with NCC energy efficiency requirements.
Eleven local governments were recruited to develop and pilot ‘proof of concept’ inspection resources and nine councils committed to undertaking site inspections during the trial period. 86 inspections of 59 homes were done within the study timeframe and a number of non-compliance issues were identified.
The pilot project highlighted that an integrated approach to NCC compliance is needed, from design documentation through to approval and construction stages.
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- Pilot tool 1 – New home energy efficiency compliance inspections project website (available for trialling during 2016)
Pilot project two: Electronic building passport
Pitt & Sherry and Queensland University of Technology developed and piloted an electronic building passport (EBP) tool – a data management system to collect the necessary documentation for verifying the energy performance of new buildings.
Nine local governments were recruited to help develop and test a web-based EBP. The study found that none of the participating councils were currently collecting all of the energy performance-related documentation required in the NCC but all agreed that an EBP system could play an important role in improving processes and compliance.
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- Pilot tool 2 - Electronic building passport project website (available for trialling during 2016)
Sustainability House investigated options to improve compliance and consistency in the application of the National Construction Code energy performance requirements to additions and alterations of residential buildings.
As part of the investigation, Sustainability House:
- conducted a national survey of building industry stakeholders
- identified the current regulatory treatment of existing parts of altered dwellings
- modelled the star rating outcomes and energy costs of the various compliance pathways.
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Using the findings from the pilot projects, NEEBP participants will work proactively with building regulators and industry energy efficiency advocates, the Australian Building Codes Board and other key building industry bodies to improve capacity to monitor, enforce and implement the energy efficiency requirements of the NCC. The focus will be on:
- design non-compliance
- material substitution
- skill and/or knowledge deficiencies
By collaborating with consumer protection organisations, the NEEBP will also improve support for consumers who experience issues with non-compliant building, design and approval practices, leading to compromised energy efficiency in new and renovated buildings.
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