It may be time to enhance the energy efficiency and renewable energy generation of new structures, in the wake of recent consultations and analysis regarding the next update of the National Construction Code (NCC) in 2022.

The NCC supplies the minimum needed requirements for safety and health, amenity and accessibility, and design sustainability, building, performance and overall livability of new buildings (and new construction work in standing buildings) throughout Australia. It’s a regulated set of technical guidelines that permit variations in geographic conditions, like climate.

For the energy efficiency of residences, the consultation process by the Australian Building Codes Board looked at two options:

  1. NCC provisions that attain a level of thermal comfort equal to 7 stars NatHERS and net zero yearly energy use for regular building services, such as space conditioning, hot water systems, lighting along with pool and spa pumps.
  2. NCC provisions that accomplish a degree of thermal comfort equal to 7-star NatHERS and maximum energy usage budget greater than zero for regulated constructed services.

Even though option 1 does not include whitegoods, alternate appliances or pool and spa heating, its adoption would be excellent for the cause of energy efficiency and renewable energy in residential structures. It would elevate the installation of rooftop solar, as net zero annual energy usage may be attained by the offsetting of the energy usage of the specified energy services with on-site renewables. And the enhancements in energy efficiency will reduce the size of the job encountered by renewable energy in providing substitutes for fossil fuels.

For each unit of fossil fuel electricity saved through energy efficiency or replaced by a unit of renewable electricity, approximately three units (range 2-4 units) of primary fossil fuel energy are avoided. Many GHG emissions and air pollution released by the electric sector arose from the primary energy stage – the combustion of fossil fuels is a bad process for the creation of electricity.

In short, enhancing energy efficiency in buildings could attain a dual dividend in reducing GHG emissions, by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. And as solar modules become less expensive, they can accomplish net zero energy buildings when limits of economic energy efficiency measures are attained. In many nations, energy efficiency is avoided while renewable energy gets additional heed.

Of course, it should be mentioned that state governments are not regulated by the NCC. In NSW, BASIX supplants energy efficiency provisions in the NCC, but many believe that BASIX could correspond with the updating of national regulations. The NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, supports this concept and has assured that his department is developing updates to BASIX. The minister also noted the value of embodied energy which would give an incentive for the use of timber in home building and less energy- and greenhouse-intensive materials like aluminium and steel and concrete created with Portland cement.

Funding is needed for BASIX to work, and to be conducive to net zero energy houses.

Improved design of our cities, towns and precincts will empower people to lessen their energy consumption by walking, cycling and taking public transportation (post-Covid-19) to local destinations. In short, running and other physical movement will help prevent runaway climate change.


Source: The Fifth Estate.Com.Au