1st November 2021
Viridian's response to Net Zero by 2050
Like many Australians’ Viridian is closely watching Australian’s response to Net Zero 2050. Last week, Viridian provided a substantial response regarding the need for better building regulations through the public comment of NCC 2022 of the National Construction Code. Viridian participate in this process every three years, alongside other leading industry stakeholders in an effort to achieve better building outcomes.
Our 2021 submission highlighted the need for the residential construction sector to increase the use of better performing insulated glass. A simple mandate in this area would assist not only homeowners by contributing to lower power bills and improved comfort levels, importantly it would help Australia’s efforts in tackling its global emission reduction commitments.
Sadly, as we have seen over the last decade, the likely outcome for NCC 2022 provisions will be a watered-down version of the proposed outcomes, delivering only a reduction in glazed areas and a fall back to poor quality, uninsulated single glazed window and door options. This is not the improvement on current provisions that Australia desperately needs.
The improved 7 Star residential rating system is a step in the right direction; however, it just doesn’t go far enough to improve the glass and frame requirements for new construction under NCC 2022. The failure to adopt better performing window systems is bewildering when comparing Australia to the rest of the western world, where far more stringent policies have been in place for decades. These policies play such an important role in reducing carbon emissions.
Current glazing performance allowances in Australia are approximately double the permitted allowance seen overseas, even after climate comparisons are taken into account. With no increased stringency changes planned in the trajectory policy until 2032, it is possible that our children will be building homes in some parts of Australia with the same glass and frame technology their Grandparents had in the 1970’s.
Viridian simply asks this question; When will Australia adopt minimum product performance standards for glazing that is comparable to economies such as Europe, USA and NZ?
To end on a positive note, there was one encouraging paragraph found in the Government's report;
The trajectory will accelerate the deployment of low emissions technologies across both new and existing buildings. Changes to the National Construction Code can deliver increasing energy efficiency of new buildings. However, residential and commercial buildings have long lifetimes and slow turnover.
This means that by 2050, around 7 million homes and a third of commercial buildings will not be subject to improved energy efficiency measures in the National Construction Code. For existing buildings, the trajectory is progressing initiatives to provide information for households and businesses, expand energy rating tools and improve energy efficiency in rental properties.
To significantly reduce emissions from buildings, governments may need to consider additional measures that encourage large-scale refurbishments and technology adoption in existing buildings, and thereby speed up the improvement of the existing stock.