Electronic Building Passport - Final Report: Project 2 National Energy Efficient Building Project Phase 2

Harrington, Phil & Miller, Wendy F. (2015) Electronic Building Passport - Final Report: Project 2 National Energy Efficient Building Project Phase 2. State of South Australia, Adelaide, S.A.

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The National Energy Efficient Building Project (NEEBP) Phase One report, published in December 2014, investigated “process issues and systemic failures” in the administration of the energy performance requirements in the National Construction Code. It found that most stakeholders believed that under-compliance with these requirements is widespread across Australia, with similar issues being reported in all states and territories. The report found that many different factors were contributing to this outcome and, as a result, many recommendations were offered that together would be expected to remedy the systemic issues reported.

To follow up on this Phase 1 report, three additional projects were commissioned as part of Phase 2 of the overall NEEBP project. This Report deals with the development and piloting of an Electronic Building Passport (EBP) tool – a project undertaken jointly by pitt&sherry and a team at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) led by Dr Wendy Miller. The other Phase 2 projects cover audits of Class 1 buildings and issues relating to building alterations and additions.

The passport concept aims to provide all stakeholders with (controlled) access to the key documentation and information that they need to verify the energy performance of buildings. This trial project deals with residential buildings but in principle could apply to any building type. Nine councils were recruited to help develop and test a pilot electronic building passport tool.

The participation of these councils – across all states – enabled an assessment of the extent to which these councils are currently utilising documentation; to track the compliance of residential buildings with the energy performance requirements in the National Construction Code (NCC). Overall we found that none of the participating councils are currently compiling all of the energy performance-related documentation that would demonstrate code compliance. The key reasons for this include: a major lack of clarity on precisely what documentation should be collected; cost and budget pressures; low public/stakeholder demand for the documentation; and a pragmatic judgement that non-compliance with any regulated documentation requirements represents a relatively low risk for them. Some councils reported producing documentation, such as certificates of final completion, only on demand, for example. Only three of the nine council participants reported regularly conducting compliance assessments or audits utilising this documentation and/or inspections. Overall we formed the view that documentation and information tracking processes operating within the building standards and compliance system are not working to assure compliance with the Code’s energy performance requirements. In other words the Code, and its implementation under state and territory regulatory processes, is falling short as a ‘quality assurance’ system for consumers. As a result it is likely that the new housing stock is under-performing relative to policy expectations, consuming unnecessary amounts of energy, imposing unnecessarily high energy bills on occupants, and generating unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, Councils noted that the demand for documentation relating to building energy performance was low. All the participant councils in the EBP pilot agreed that documentation and information processes need to work more effectively if the potential regulatory and market drivers towards energy efficient homes are to be harnessed. These findings are fully consistent with the Phase 1 NEEBP report.

It was also agreed that an EBP system could potentially play an important role in improving documentation and information processes. However, only one of the participant councils indicated that they might adopt such a system on a voluntary basis. The majority felt that such a system would only be taken up if it were:

  • A nationally agreed system, imposed as a mandatory requirement under state or national regulation;

  • Capable of being used by multiple parties including councils, private certifiers, building regulators, builders and energy assessors in particular; and

  • Fully integrated into their existing document management systems, or at least seamlessly compatible rather than a separate, unlinked tool.

Further, we note that the value of an EBP in capturing statistical information relating to the energy performance of buildings would be much greater if an EBP were adopted on a nationally consistent basis.

Councils were clear that a key impediment to the take up of an EBP system is that they are facing very considerable budget and staffing challenges. They report that they are often unable to meet all community demands from the resources available to them. Therefore they are unlikely to provide resources to support the roll out of an EBP system on a voluntary basis.

Overall, we conclude from this pilot that the public good would be well served if the Australian, state and territory governments continued to develop and implement an Electronic Building Passport system in a cost-efficient and effective manner. This development should occur with detailed input from building regulators, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), councils and private certifiers in the first instance.

This report provides a suite of recommendations (Section 7.2) designed to advance the development and guide the implementation of a national EBP system.

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ID Code: 93127
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: electronic building passport, housing, local government, information assymetry, housing policy, National Construction Code, energy efficiency
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Urban and Regional Planning not elsewhere classified (120599)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > OTHER BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (129900) > Built Environment and Design not elsewhere classified (129999)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: State of South Australia 2015
Copyright Statement: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Third party copyright
To the extent that copyright subsists in third party materials, where noted, it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to use the material. The Government of South Australia has made all reasonable efforts to:
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Attribution and Disclaimer:
Except where otherwise noted, any reference to, use or distribution of all or part of this publication must include the following attribution and disclaimer:
© State of South Australia 2015
The research reported in this paper was funded by the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the South Australian or other Governments.
Deposited On: 22 Feb 2016 22:28
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2016 22:13

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