What you Need to Know about the New NCC
You can’t miss this. 2019 is the year of a big release. But what does the new version of the NCC mean for you? Read on to find out about the changes and where they might effect you.
So What’s Happening?
The updated version of the National Construction Code of Australia, the NCC, will be adopted on May 01. But before this happens, the Preview of the NCC 2019 is already setting the stage for major improvements.
Here are the key benefits these amendments will bring to you:
- It’s easier to understand the NCC — the wording is clarified and simplified.
- It has become simpler to measure whether a construction complies with the NCC — two dozens of new Verification Methods are introduced.
- You get more flexibility — the focus is now on Verification Methods rather than on Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions. This means you come up with your own building solution and use relevant Verification Methods to demonstrate that it complies with the NCC requirements.
- You produce better performing buildings — accuracy is increased where possible, which, in turn, will result in higher energy efficiency and decreased gas emissions.
Now let’s look into the areas that have undergone major updates.
You will find 20 new Verification Methods (VMs) introduced in the NCC 2019.
An estimated 40% of the Code’s Performance Requirements will be quantified (measured) either directly or by a VM. This step is taken to reduce the poor application of Performance Solutions that resulted in non-compliance.
The main areas to be quantified are artificial lighting, natural lighting, energy efficiency, and private bushfire shelters. Under these categories, the following sections are included:
- Fire safety,
- Room heights,
- Bushfire protection,
- Class 9c noise,
- Natural lighting,
- Inbuilt overflow of vessels,
- Ramps, and
- Combustion appliances.
Measuring and improving performance is an essential step. But it does not stop there.
Readability and Consistency
Terminology, wording, and structure of the NCC have been vastly reviewed to increase understanding and facilitate the use of the Code.
General Requirements in Volume One and Two are changed into Governing Requirements. In addition, these requirements are rewritten so that their meanings are clear. Furthermore, all three Volumes now come with consistent structure and terminology.
Significant changes have been made to the structure of the NCC Volume Three, the Plumbing Code of Australia. It will now include requirements for:
- heated water temperature control,
- cross-connection control, and
- rainwater harvesting and use.
Sections of Volume Three that were relevant only for a few States or Territories, such as on-site wastewater systems, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning), and stormwater, are relocated to relevant State or Territory appendix.
A huge consideration is given to the next area – the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.
Here is the highlight: the new package of measures aims to reduce energy consumption by a potential 35%.
New VMs are included to demonstrate compliance with the relevant Performance Requirement through Green Star and NABERS – tools that rate the sustainability features of a building.
Section J (Energy Efficiency) has been rewritten in its entirety. As a result, many of the reference buildings proved to be not only better performing in terms of energy efficiency but also cheaper to build than buildings under NCC 2016 compliance, as stated by Dr Paul Bannister, director of Innovation and Sustainability at Energy Action.
How are these results achieved? Simple. By shifting from energy-based metric to a greenhouse gas emissions-based metric. This approach helped to view heating and cooling on equal terms and improve the performance of buildings, particularly in times of extreme heat or cold.
Improved methodology is applied to Glazing and Insulation
New methodology is adopted for Lifts as well as Fans and Pumps
Higher stringency is achieved for Glazing, Fans and Pumps, Chillers, Boilers, PAC Units, Cooling Towers, and Lights.
Lighting: You will find a whole series of upgrades to the lighting section. Particularly, there is a decrease in the lighting power density requirements — 9 watts/m2 is decreased to 4.5 W/m2 (and even lower, 2 W/m2, for low-light requirement spaces, such as bathrooms).
Lifts: Currently lifts are not regulated in any way, so NCC 2019 dedicates a whole new section to them. As an established international standard already exists, The NCC has borrowed that standard from ASHRAE 90.1.
Energy efficiency provisions for Volume One and Volume Two will have a transition period of one year, until 1 May 2020. In this period, either the new NCC 2019 provisions or those from NCC 2016 may be used.
NCC 2019 introduces a comprehensive fire safety Verification Method.
But there is more.
To increase life safety, changes are made to fire sprinkler protection for Class 2 (residential apartment buildings) and Class 3 buildings (hotel and dormitory style accommodation) over 3 storeys and under 25m in effective height (previously it was only for residential buildings above 25 meters).
Two new fire sprinkler specifications were developed by the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA) – one of them relies on a connection to the domestic supply while the other involves connection to the hydrant supply. Notably, both of these systems are more cost-effective in terms of installation than the previous systems (AS 2118).
The new specifications provide higher levels of safety for those who often fail to react to alarm systems or notice fire (this group includes young children, the aged, people with hearing impairments and those affected by alcohol).
NCC 2019 retains the concession to use a bonded laminated material, but to prevent the use of aluminum composite panels (ACPs) with a combustible core, the requirements come with specified characteristics and clarification.
To prevent potential health risks (such as allergies) and handle amenity issues, amendments are designed specifically for residential buildings (Class 1, 2 and Class 4 parts of a building).
As stated by the ABCB, New parts in Volume One and Two outline condensation requirements for “water control membranes, permeable membranes, the ventilation of roof spaces and the discharge of exhaust systems from kitchens, bathrooms, toilets or laundries”.
Three more areas in construction are affected by NCC 2019 amendments.
Occupiable Outdoor Areas
New provisions clarify requirements for occupiable outdoor areas, such as roof-top bars and restaurants, balconies or similar part of a building.
Acceptable Construction Practices (ACPs)
You will find new and improved acceptable construction practices (ACPs) in NCC 2019, including new ACPs for the following components:
- Earth retaining structures
- Masonry veneer
- Isolated piers
- Sheet roofing
- Roof tiles and shingles
- Wall cladding
- Metal wall cladding
- Fire safety
- Smoke alarms
- Sound insulation
- Ancillary provisions and additional requirements
- Alpine areas
- Decks and balconies
Accessible Adult Change Facilities
Volume One will require accessible adult change facilities to be provided in large shopping centers, museums, theatres, airport terminals, and sporting venues.
Want to learn more?
Through February and March 2019, ABCB and Standards Australia will conduct information seminars in capital cities of Australia.
The seminars are aimed to help you design and construct NCC-compliant buildings (Registrations are now open). If you can’t attend, a video outlining the changes will be available in April 2019.
In addition to this, a wide range of supporting and explanatory materials will also be released.
Check out the ABCB resource library to access them.
Now is the best time to get prepared.
Forewarned is forearmed, so its best to be informed about the updates that will affect your working practices.
If you have any questions about the NCC, or are interested in adding some additional training to your skillset, feel free to call us on 1300 855 713 or email firstname.lastname@example.org