Concerns have been raised by industry and consumer groups at large in Western Australia about the Government’s decision to delay the implementation of the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 by a further 12 months citing the effects of COVID in its justification.
Fifteen organisations representing affected WA manufacturers, fabricators, professional service providers and members of the community, including Australian Institute of Architects, Property Council of Australia and Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) urged the Western Australian Government to reconsider its decision.
NCC 2019 introduced significant enhancements to fire safety, condensation risk management, engineering and energy efficiency, which will now be delayed for two years in total after the WA building industry was already given 12 months to transition.
The updated code ushered in a new era for energy efficiency of buildings in Australia, referencing thermal bridging for the first time in local construction industry’s history and setting new, more onerous standards for thermal compliance. Furthermore, NCC 2019 introduced new building requirements for fire safety, including in bushfire prone areas. With the delay of implementation in WA, all of these benefits will be denied to the local homeowners.
Scott Gibson, Kingspan Insulation’s regional MD and current Chair of Insulation Australasia, has joined a coalition of organisations calling for the WA Government to reconsider its position, with the installation of up to two million square metres of insulation at stake, along with the associated employment and value it brings.
The position that Scott has put to many is that, “while some builders have lobbied for this to delay the costs associated with complying to NCC2019, First Home Buyers of houses or apartments would be alarmed to hear that their building would not be built to the most recent building standards; neither would they like to learn of the associated long-term impact it would have on safety, insurance, energy efficiency and resale value”.
The decision also goes against the recent research by ASBEC and ClimateWorks which showed that better energy standards for new buildings in Western Australia could reduce energy costs by up to $4 billion, delivering at least 10 million tonnes of cumulative emissions savings and saving households up to $1,000 per year in energy bills by 2050.
WA has had a history of poor compliance when it comes to energy efficiency of new buildings. Some of the changes introduced in NCC 2019 were designed to close a loophole that is enabling homes to be built below the national 6-star minimum standard in WA, as many were taking advantage of the Verification method using a reference building (VURB), rather than building to a specific energy star rating.
Western Australia is the only State in Australia not to have transitioned to NCC2019.