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Balancing sustainability and BCA compliance

December 10, 2018 Posted by Heath McNab
Balancing sustainability and BCA compliance

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As innovative and sustainable workplaces become the norm, there is an increasing need for organisations to consider how energy-efficient solutions will comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA). To address this, the Australian Government is supporting changes to the National Construction Code (NCC) that will increase the flexibility and number of compliance options available.

The NCC overhaul, focused primarily on Section J, is part of the government’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the energy efficiency of Australia’s building stock by 40 per cent by 2030. The changes are likely to be cost-effective and produce energy savings for organisations of around 23 to 53 per cent.

Building types affected

The Section J changes affect Class 2, Class 3 and Class 5 to 9 commercial buildings, and focus on improving the strictness of provisions. This will be achieved by:

  • quantification of the mandatory performance requirement
  • introducing a NABERS Energy Commitment Agreement Verification Method
  • introducing a Green Star Verification Method
  • introducing commissioning requirements
  • improved consideration of on-site renewables such as photovoltaics
  • improved thermal bridging requirements, and simpler deemed-to-satisfy provisions.

Residential buildings affected are Class 1, sole-occupancy units of Class 2, and Class 4 parts of buildings. The focus for residential buildings is to simplify provisions, improving readability and compliance with existing performance requirements.

Green Star and NABERS verification

Changes to the NCC will also allow organisations to use verification methods used to achieve Green Star and NABERS ratings, to prove BCA compliance. This means organisations can bypass the need for separate verification, if they are already committed to achieving those ratings. This will streamline the process, as ratings requires independent review and verification.

How does this affect you?

These changes will provide greater flexibility and more options for creating a sustainable workplace, helping organisations achieve energy savings in a cost-effective manner. However, this flexibility means a greater focus on performance solutions, some of which will be harder to achieve than others.
The NCC changes will be released in February 2019 and come into effect in May 2019. For more information on the changes and how you can leverage them to create a more sustainable workplace, visit the
Australian Building Codes Board, or get in touch with our building certification consultants.

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