Dodgy Section J changes dropped from updated National Construction Code
Willow Aliento | 11 February 2016
Take a bow Section J Industry Working Group and all the other sustainability-minded experts that participated in the consultation on the 2016 version of the National Construction Code late last year.
The new and final NCC 2016 has been released this week, and in it the Australian Building Codes Board has backtracked on all of the most contentious changes proposed for energy performance requirements.
There have been some issues with the ABCB website this week that made it problematic for many people to download the code, but director of Sustainable Development Consulting Ben de Waard managed to look through the revised Section J for The Fifth Estate.
He said the ABCB had listened to industry concerns and had mostly left everything as it was originally, with one small positive change. Class 2-9 buildings will now be required to add slab-edge insulation to improve thermal performance.
There has also been a small change around no longer needing to meet extra provisions where insulation has been lost due the installation of a downlight, for example.
Mr de Waard said that while it is disappointing the code does not contain any significant improvements, at least it hasn’t made things worse.
“You would hope though a building code would gradually lead to improved performance over time,” he said.
President of the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Association of Australia, Sean Maxwell, said he had looked at the building sealing parts of Section J of the 2016 NCC.
“It’s basically unchanged from 2015, which means it is still weak, vague and unenforceable,” he said.
“Building codes should be used to influence how buildings are built, and this code does not do that.”
He said in some ways, the complete lack of guidance or clarity on building sealing is not all bad, because “the code is basically a blank slate on which sensible improvements can be written”.
“We should take lessons from the voluminous building science research done over the past 50 years abroad and apply that to the Australian codes,” he said.
- Download the NCC 2016.