Energy efficiency changes powered up under NCC 2022

16 April 2024

The new requirements for energy efficiency in the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 will come into effect on May 1.

Last September, the Queensland Government announced an extended transition to the new rules, as the software used to measure energy ratings was still not ready.

Although we welcomed the delay at the time, the cost of living continues to soar, and the housing crisis is showing no signs of abating.

Against this backdrop, Master Builders maintains that now is not the right time to be implementing these changes. While sustainability and saving energy are important, these complex technical requirements will drive up costs for both builders and consumers. For some housing types, there will be little obvious benefits to the occupants.

Despite our opposition, the changes are on their way. All members must ensure they are up to date with the updated NCC 2022 requirements, to ensure their business and workmanship remain compliant.

What are the new requirements?

From 1 May, all new homes and major renovations must meet more stringent energy efficiency standards for the ‘thermal shell’ of the building and the new ‘whole of home’ assessment.

Class 1 buildings’ thermal performance will increase to 7 stars in the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). Class 2 buildings will need to meet an average of 7 stars with no sole occupancy unit being less than 6 stars.

The deemed-to-satisfy elemental table requirements for housing have also been increased – and the new tables are extensive. It is very likely that ceiling fans will be required to all habitable rooms throughout Queensland.

The rules allow for a 1-star credit for an outdoor living area with a ceiling fan. [This is only applicable if using an energy rating software tool and not the elemental tables].

Master Builders has secured an additional Queensland concession under the deemed-to-satisfy pathway for an option to adopt the previous NCC 2019 elemental tables where there is a compliant outdoor living area and fan for a Class 1 dwelling.  This will should be of value for those projects struggling to comply under the NatHERS software, such as dwellings on stumps.

The NCC 2022 also includes a new separate requirement with the introduction of a ‘whole of home, annual energy usage budget'. This applies to the energy use of the home’s heating and cooling equipment which includes air conditioning, heated water systems, cooking, lighting, and swimming pools and spa pumps.

This approach enables renewable energy systems to offset the energy use, or by choosing more efficient heating and cooling equipment, to meet the level of allowable energy usage. It cannot be used to offset any requirements for the thermal performance of the building (star rating).

Tips to ease compliance 

The energy assessment can identify the need for changes that may significantly increase the cost of construction. Put the work in at the design stage to minimise these costs as far as possible.  For example, moving windows may be much cheaper than double-glazing.

Consider entering into a ‘preliminary agreement’ (available on eDocs) to carry out the energy assessment at design stage and recover the costs, before agreeing to a fixed price contract.

Ensure any appliances which form part of the ‘whole of home’ assessment are agreed with the client up front and included in the contract.

Where can I find out more?

We’ve developed two guides, one for industry, and a second for consumers, to assist with understanding and meeting the requirements for NCC 2022.

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