The National Energy Efficient Building Project (NEEBP) commenced in 2012 with the aim of supporting consumers, government and industry to achieve better energy efficiency in new buildings, renovations and additions.

The NEEBP is led by the Government of South Australia’s Department for Energy and Mining and is co-funded by all Australian states and territories through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council.

In 2015, the COAG Energy Council agreed to a National Energy Productivity Plan, which recognises that improving our national energy productivity will be important in delivering greater value from the energy that Australians use. This will also help consumers manage their energy costs and reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this plan, the Council will continue supporting the NEEBP.

Phase one

In 2013, Pitt & Sherry and Swinburne University of Technology undertook a national review of key systemic or process weaknesses or points of non-compliance with the energy efficiency requirements in the National Construction Code (NCC). Swinburne also explored the contribution of knowledge management to building energy performance and Code compliance. Working with key building industry stakeholders, regulators and policy makers across Australia and considering all classes of buildings, the consulting team found that most concerns raised focussed on residential buildings.

All new homes or extensions built in Australia are required to meet six-star energy efficiency requirements in the NCC or in state and territory variations to the code. A major finding from the report was that most stakeholders believe that under-compliance with building energy efficiency is widespread, implying that buildings in Australia have higher energy use, higher emissions and higher overall costs for building owners and occupants than necessary.

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Phase two

Several high priority recommendations of the NEEBP Report are being progressed through Commonwealth, state and industry policy and research initiatives. NEEBP phase two focused on projects with immediate 'on ground' demonstration and information gathering value.

More than 20 local government authorities trialled ‘as built’ inspection and document control processes across all Australian climate zones and in residential growth areas.

The tools developed during NEEBP phase two will remain available for voluntary trialling by industry and regulators during 2016. The NEEBP team will continue to work through 2016 with pilot councils and industry experts to integrate these tools into a web-based compliance product easily accessible to industry and regulators.

NEEBP phase two projects were funded by Commonwealth, state and territory governments. The opinions expressed and any errors or omissions in the reports are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of South Australia, or Commonwealth, state or territory governments.

Pilot project one: New home energy efficiency compliance inspections

Lead consultants, Healthy Environs, in association with Sustain SA, Dsquared Consulting and Leading Edge Town Planners, developed an ‘as built’ inspection process that could be used to validate compliance with NCC energy efficiency requirements.

Eleven local governments were recruited to develop and pilot ‘proof of concept’ inspection resources and nine councils committed to undertaking site inspections during the trial period. 86 inspections of 59 homes were done within the study timeframe and a number of non-compliance issues were identified.

The pilot project highlighted that an integrated approach to NCC compliance is needed, from design documentation through to approval and construction stages.

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Pilot project two: Electronic building passport

Pitt & Sherry and Queensland University of Technology developed and piloted an electronic building passport (EBP) tool – a data management system to collect the necessary documentation for verifying the energy performance of new buildings.

Nine local governments were recruited to help develop and test a web-based EBP. The study found that none of the participating councils were currently collecting all of the energy performance-related documentation required in the NCC but all agreed that an EBP system could play an important role in improving processes and compliance.

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Project three

Sustainability House investigated options to improve compliance and consistency in the application of the National Construction Code energy performance requirements to additions and alterations of residential buildings.

As part of the investigation, Sustainability House:

  • conducted a national survey of building industry stakeholders
  • identified the current regulatory treatment of existing parts of altered dwellings
  • modelled the star rating outcomes and energy costs of the various compliance pathways.

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Phase three

Project one: Cross-Industry Skills Training Project

The New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and DSD hosted two construction industry skills workshops during October and November 2016.

The cross-industry workshops investigated and shaped how OEH, DSD and construction industry peak organisations will develop targeted resources to improve energy efficiency compliance and sustainable practices (and increase high-performing buildings) in the residential construction industry.

The first workshop was used to identify priority knowledge and skill gaps. The second workshop was used to outline priority knowledge and training products that can be developed in the first half 2017, using COAG/NEPP funds and matching funds from the NSW government.

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Project two: Regulator needs analysis review

In mid-2018, the final report on the National Energy Efficiency Building Compliance Deep Dive Project Phase three was released. This report compiles the results of extensive consultation (workshops and surveys) with a broad range of building professionals responsible for achieving built energy compliance. The 'Deep Dive' identifies their key requirements to improve National Construction Code energy compliance and achieve high performing homes.

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Phase four

Project one: Electronic Building Passport (EBP) Evaluation

During Phase two of this Project a series of industry pilots were conducted Australia-wide with Local Government officers who are engaged in building approvals, inspection, and confirmation of National Construction Code compliance. The Pilots were co-designed with Local Government officers to compile a national sample of the most common non-compliance issues in built residential energy efficiency (Class 1) and to trial two potential protocols for improved inspection, documentation and accountability. These two Phase 2 Reports: “New home energy efficiency compliance inspection” protocol, and a demonstration “Electronic building passport” are available on this site. (The Queensland University of Technology also provided an international appraisal of the efficacy of EBPs in that report.)

Following these preliminary pilots, a project was conducted with the Queensland University of Technology and the CSIRO team responsible for design and management of NatHERS (National House Energy Rating Scheme). The objectives of this project were to:

  • evaluate the potential implementation of an EBP by analysing building legislation and documentary evidence requirements in all states and territories
  • to assess the data needs of stakeholders in conjunction with the form and function of an operational EBP
  • to examine opportunities in NatHERS to provide a “line of sight” between the energy rating at design and approval with rating at completion.

A well-designed and implemented EBP - a building data management system - could provide a Quality Assurance mechanism that enables the implementation, tracking and verification of compliance with the energy efficiency requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC).

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Project two: Cross-Industry Skills Training Project (extension)

Continuing to develop energy efficient building skills training with collaborating industry partners and allied Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) with specific expertise and construction industry member distribution networks.

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Next steps

Working with both the Commonwealth Government and other State and Territory jurisdictions the Energy Programs and Services Division of the South Australian Department for Energy and Mining will continue to work with industry to support capacity to deliver energy efficient buildings and deliver measures under both the National Energy Productivity Plan and the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.

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