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Welcome to 2024. At the ABCB, work is already well underway on this year’s priorities. You can expect to see the ABCB out and about at events, including our roadshows in the first half of the year, and continuing our public forums (more information to come). We’ll be producing more resource material to help explain and apply the NCC, and our Public Comment Draft for the next addition of the NCC will be published in the next few months. 

We have been working hard to finalise the Guide for Volume One for NCC 2022 for inclusion in NCC Online. I’m pleased to say this work has been completed. The guide material provides further context for specific sections or provisions of the NCC. It reinforces the benefit of NCC Online - creating an easier user experience by linking content to related parts of the Code and other guide material and providing simple explanations. NCC Online is a comprehensive resource for the most recent updates of the National Construction Code and links to guidance material. There are further enhancements coming to NCC Online in early 2024 – stay tuned for details!

Our new Apartment Energy Efficiency Handbook is also now available. This handbook provides guidance on the energy efficiency requirements for Class 2 apartment buildings and complements the Housing Energy Efficiency Handbook. Together, these handbooks are intended to help you understand and comply with the latest requirements for energy efficiency.

For apartments, one of the questions we have been asked is how to comply with the Whole-of-Home (WOH) energy usage provisions (J2D2(3)(a)) for Class 2 buildings with centralised hot water and heating services. While this option is not yet available as a Deemed-to-Satisfy (DTS) Solution (including via NatHERS), DTS Provisions for centralised hot water services are being developed and will be updated in the next edition of the NCC. Look for a draft of this content in the upcoming Public Comment Draft.

In the meantime, these systems can be assessed through the Verification Method J1V5 (known as the Verification Using a Reference Building or VURB) or another type of Performance Solution. It’s also worth remembering that a combination of approaches can be used to demonstrate compliance, subject to approval from the appropriate authority – for example, NatHERS (under J2D2(2)(a)) to demonstrate the thermal performance energy rating and J1V5(b) to demonstrate WOH compliance. See the Alert on page 14 of the Handbook.

While mentioning energy efficiency and NatHERS, it is great to see more NatHERS commercial tools being accredited and the recent commencement of modern homes provisions of the NCC (energy efficiency, livable housing and condensation mitigation) in the ACT.

These reforms, included in NCC 2022, will improve the comfort, day-to-day affordability and accessibility of new homes in Australia. The benefits will flow to renters, to owners and to visitors. These homes will be more comfortable and valuable from day 1 – and will stay that way well into the future.

Looking at the rest of 2024, what else can you expect to see from us? 

Over the next few months, we’ll be getting out and about to talk directly to industry bodies and practitioners to explain key changes proposed in the upcoming NCC 2025 Public Comment Draft. We’ll have that draft published in the first half of the year and we’ll be seeking input from industry and the broader community over a 2 month public consultation process.

We will also continue holding public information sessions – with a specific focus on the Public Comment Draft – as well as our in-person and online forums, where our Board Chair, Glenys Beauchamp, and I will be on stage to answer your questions about the work of the ABCB.

You can also expect to see continued educational support and promotional effort to raise awareness of the NCC and WaterMark.

All of this work is focused on responding to the needs of our community and helping industry construct safer, more accessible and more sustainable buildings across Australia. I look forward to seeing you, or hearing from you, during the year.