The NCC already has provisions for attenuating noise that is generated internally in residential buildings. However, a number of councils and State Governments have become aware of complaints about external noise intruding into buildings, particularly into residential buildings. Currently the NCC has no provisions for attenuating external noise entering through the building shell.
In 2007, the ABCB instigated a project to investigate the feasibility of the NCC having provisions for attenuating externally generated road and rail noise but initially limited the scope to the noise entering sole-occupancy units (apartments) of Class 2 buildings. However, some stakeholders expressed their concern with noise intruding into other residences such as houses, hotels, aged care units, and other noise sensitive buildings such as hospital wards, libraries and places of worship. The ABCB has decided to extend the focus to all residential buildings including aged care units but not to other noise sensitive buildings. The NCC text prepared for public comment reflects this focus while the regulation impact analysis explores the options, regulatory or otherwise, for addressing any market failure.
The project has been informed by a report titled External Noise into Residential Apartment Buildings – Scoping Study Report. A Working Group was established that included State building control and planning officials and industry acoustic experts. The Working group concluded that:
- Suitable NCC provisions could be developed for insulating the range of buildings proposed from external noise but the requirements should only be applied where needed. Whether they are cost-effective for all the applications proposed would need to be determined by regulation impact analysis.
- The inclusion of building solutions in the NCC could improve consistency, provide a national approach and assist those jurisdictions considering a regulatory approach.
- Existing or proposed State provisions, although different in some details, are consistent with the NCC approach so these, plus the current provisions for internal noise, can provide a basis for extending noise provisions nationally.
Work commenced on the development of draft NCC provisions in early 2011. A copy of a regulation impact analysis, including the draft provisions, was released for public comment in 2012. Subject to the outcome from the regulation impact analysis and approval by the Board, the draft proposals could be included in the public comment draft for NCC 2014 which will be released during 2013.