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January 2022

Updated energy efficiency requirements for new builds

20 Dec 2021, Building and housing, News

New Building Code requirements bring biggest energy efficiency change in over a decade

The latest changes to the Building Code will make new homes and buildings warmer, drier and healthier, with less impact on the climate, says Jenni Tipler, Manager of Building Performance and Engineering at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The changes focus on increases to insulation requirements and introduce six new climate zones to reflect the specific weather experienced in different parts of New Zealand.

The new requirements aim to reduce energy efficiency to heat and cool buildings by 23 per cent and to heat homes by up to 40 per cent.

“These are the biggest energy efficiency changes to the Building Code in over a decade and will support the building and construction sector to help New Zealand reach its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Tipler says.

“One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to boost thermal performance is to increase roof insulation. That’s why we’ve decided to double the minimum amount of roof insulation required for new builds across the country.

“Windows represent the largest source of heat loss in new homes, so we are increasing the minimum insulation level for windows across the country, with a focus on targeted higher upgrades in colder climate zones.”

In recognition of New Zealand’s very different climates, the six new climate zones mean buildings will need to be constructed to different insulation levels to reflect this.

The new window insulation requirements in the warmest climate zones will see a two-step approach with an interim increase in the next year and an additional increase in the following year. By the end of 2023, all parts of the country will have a similar minimum level of window insulation requirements.

The update to the Building Code is being made following a consultation that received more submissions than the last five years of updates combined, suggesting a high level of public interest in improving energy efficiency.

To allow the sector to prepare for the changes before they become mandatory for new builds, there will be a one-year transition period for the majority of the changes, and a two-step approach for the window insulation requirements.

For more information on the updates to the Building Code, please visit https://www.building.govt.nz/building-code-compliance/annual-building-code-updates/2021-building-code-update/

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