We need to address energy efficiency of existing buildings not just new homes

In New Zealand, the construction industry is resisting changes to encourage sustainability in the building code

The recent revisions to the Building Code deal well with reducing heat loss in houses, but they fail to deal with overheating and the potential explosion in the use of heat pumps

Comment: The call by certain elements of the construction sector to hold back on the proposed energy efficiency changes in the New Zealand Building Codedoes feel like we have been here before.

The Master Builders Association, the Certified Builders Association and the National Party are asking for the changes, which are due to be phased in from November, to be slowed down because of issues of cost, industry skills and product supply.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, industry organisations were also opposed to earlier improvements in new house energy efficiency. However, National has shown more enthusiasm: thermal insulation was first required in 1978 by the third National government; in 1992, requirements were included in the New Zealand Building Code (NZBC) by the fourth National government.

The last major upgrade of this code was in 2006. There have been no real changes to the energy efficiency requirements for houses since then, other than lighting energy use changes for non-residential buildings. Yet there have been many other changes in the way we build and use our buildings. There have also been changes in the price of energy.

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