NZ Building Code consultation receives more submissions than last five years combined

Proposed changes to the Building Code generated massive interest from New Zealanders as MBIE look to make buildings more comfortable and healthy to live in.

This year’s consultation on the Building Code proposed options to make it easier and more efficient for people to heat and cool their homes making new buildings more comfortable and healthy to live in.

Who submitted

More than 700 submissions have been received for this year’s Building Code update, totalling 3000 responses and more than 600 pages of feedback. This is more than the previous five years of Building Code consultation responses combined.

Feedback on the Building Code typically comes from the various parts of the construction sector. A number of responses also came direct from the public – building owners, occupants and renters – reflecting the high levels of public interest in improving the energy efficiency of the homes we build. A breakdown of the submissions by occupation is provided in the table below.

Occupation Number of submissions Percent of submissions
Architects 38 5%
Designers or engineers 119 17%
Builders or tradespersons 30 4%
Building Consent Authorities 29 4%
Building product manufacturers 55 8%

There were 711 total submissions. 84 submissions were on Proposal 1. Energy efficiency for housing and small buildings. 207 submissions were on Proposal 2. Energy efficiency for large buildings. 130 submissions were on Proposal 3. Energy efficiency for HVAC in commercial buildings. 184 submissions were on Proposal 4. Natural light for higher-density housing. 165 submissions were on Proposal 5. Weathertightness for higher-density housing. 93 submissions were on Proposal 6. Standards referenced in B1 Structure. 83 submissions were on Proposal 7. Editorial changes to Acceptable Solution B1/AS1. 142 submissions were on the Building Code operating protocols.

Early insights

Based on our the submissions, a large number of those who provided feedback support the drive to build houses warmer, drier and healthier, with less impact on our environment.

The Building Code consultation document highlighted a number of challenges to resolve to get there including considerations for weathertightness, ventilation and internal moisture. These challenges and others were reflected back in the submissions and need to be carefully considered before decisions are made. Further annual reviews of the Building Code will continue to look at holistic changes to buildings to address these issues.

Many submitters requested additional information about how this Building Code update would work alongside the changes proposed within MBIE’s Building for Climate Change Programme. The Building for Climate Change programme is a long term programme to help New Zealand achieve the government’s goal of net carbon zero by 2050, and reduce the building and construction sectors climate impact. The programme includes proposals to improve the operational efficiency of buildings. Staff within Building Performance are working closely to ensure there is a clear roadmap setting out how the regulatory framework, including the Building Code, will evolve into the future.

Next steps

MBIE will continue to review the feedback from the consultation in depth over the coming weeks.

Outcomes of the consultation will be published in October, and supporting information will be shared from November 2021.

Just a reminder, the transition period for changes from the 2020 Building Code update ends on 3 November 2021. Changes were made to the acceptable solutions and verification methods for:

  • C1-C6 Protection from fire
  • E1 Surface water
  • E2 External Moisture
  • E3 Internal Moisture
  • G9 Electricity and,
  • G13 Foul Water

To familiarise yourself with these changes, read the November 2020 Building Code update.

Background on the 2021 proposed changes

The proposals consulted on this year focus on ways to make new houses warmer, drier, healthier and more energy efficient.

One of their goals this year is to make sure homes and buildings are better suited to the climate where they’re being built. To do this, they proposed new climate zones to better reflect the specific weather different parts of New Zealand experience. For example, Queenstown and Nelson have the same climate zone even though the weather these areas experience is very different.

They also proposed whether current insulation requirements need to change to adapt to these proposed climate zones and align with international standards.

Other proposals included the introduction of a new verification method to ensure heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in commercial buildings are designed and installed to reduce the load on the national grid, making it easier to comply with the Building Code. This could give building owners confidence their HVAC system is using energy efficiently.

And finally, we proposed changes to ensure apartment and other high rise buildings have enough natural light.

Published in Building Performance.


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