On 26 May 2022, media reports speculated on the proposed improvements to residential energy efficiency being considered for the 2022 edition of the NCC.

To help readers of that article understand the current proposal and decision process, the ABCB has issued the following statement.

The current proposal for improving residential energy efficiency is based on lifting the performance of building fabric to 7 stars and also applying a whole-of-home energy budget.

Chief Executive Officer of the ABCB, Gary Rake, explained:

“The proposed move to 7 stars is about improving the base performance of the building shell. It will deliver three key benefits. First, the home will be more comfortable for occupants throughout the year – less prone to being too cold in winter or too hot in summer. Second, the improved building shell means less energy will be needed to heat and cool the home. With our current mix of energy sources, that means an immediate reduction in greenhouse gas production. And third, also related to reduced energy use, regardless of where that energy comes from, it has a cost and using less energy will save money for households. This helps reduce cost of living for people living in the home, whether they are owners or tenants.”

“The key thing to remember about the shift to 7 stars is that it will improve comfort for building occupants and deliver a financial saving through lower energy use”.

On the whole-of-home energy budget, Mr Rake said:

“The whole-of-home energy budget is a measure designed to produce long-term operational energy efficiency across the major energy consuming appliances in a home. It allows some flexibility between the mix of energy use by appliances such as heating, cooling, hot water, lighting and pool or spa pumps and the onsite generation of energy through rooftop solar. One home might meet the energy budget through the use of very efficient appliances, while another might offset the use of less-efficient appliances with more onsite generation of energy.”

The proposal is based on the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings, agreed in early 2019 by Energy Ministers, and a request from Building Ministers for the ABCB to develop cost-effective provisions in line with the Trajectory. The ABCB took the 7 star proposal to public consultation in 2021 and advises that final analysis and drafting is almost complete.

Building Ministers publicly stated, in November 2021, that it was important to pursue an ambitious agenda on energy efficiency and a lower emissions built environment including making homes and buildings “future ready”.  Building Ministers are expected to meet again in the middle of 2022 to consider the ABCB’s advice and make their final decision.

In March 2022, when Building Ministers last met, the ABCB presented an update on the development and analysis of provisions. A statement from that Building Ministers meeting says they received advice that cost effective options had been developed and these were expected to produce net benefits for most new homes across Australia. The ABCB can confirm those options include the proposed shift to 7 stars with the whole-of-home energy budget.

The communique of that Building Ministers’ Meeting in March this year can be found on the Department of Industry, Science and Resources website.