Tougher construction code critical for climate target, says insulation industry

10 July 2018 Kingspan Insulation Australia

Australia’s insulation industry is backing an urgent call for stronger energy standards for residential housing and buildings under Australia’s National Construction Code, critical to ensuring they are ready for and committed to a zero carbon future.

Stronger standards would benefit consumers, as well as the environment, by ensuring more comfortable, energy efficient homes and buildings, said Insulation Australasia Chair Scott Gibson.

“We need certainty for the industry now, with a building code that is geared towards a zero net emissions economy in 2050,” Mr Gibson said.

“Slight increases in construction costs will be more than offset by the long-term energy savings.”

“The path to net zero starts with more airtight buildings and improving the building envelope,” he said.  “The insulation industry is ready to play its part in meeting this critical challenge.”

A report released yesterday prepared by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and Climate Works Australia, calls 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, with further incremental increases noted for non-residential.

The report, Built to Perform, also calls on governments to broaden the code 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.

“We need to see immediate action from government, most of the buildings being built now will still be operating in 2050,” Mr Gibson said. “What we build now needs to operate in a zero carbon future.”

Governments must agree to clear targets and updating the Code out to 2030, he said.

“We have to start plugging the energy gaps in home and building construction now,” Mr Gibson said. “Consumers and the environment will reap the benefits. Energy inefficient buildings leave a legacy of cost and discomfort for users into the future.”

"The building sector can reduce emissions by more than half right now with the introduction of improved levels of energy efficiency,” Mr Gibson said. “This pathway starts with the building fabric - improved insulation and glazing, then you can optimise services and appliances.

"The technology is already there, however strong policies and urgent action by Federal, State and Territory governments are critical,” Mr Gibson said.  “We must urgently establish a national plan, create targeted incentives, and ensure a stronger construction code is introduced and enforced.”

“Government needs to provide the regulatory certainty that industry requires to plan and invest in research and development to deliver higher building energy performance at a lower cost,” Mr Gibson said.
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. Billions could be saved off energy costs by 2030, it found.
The Report also calls for expansion of the scope of the Code and to progress complementary measures, 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.

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