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New Building Code Requirements Bring Biggest Energy Efficiency Change in Over A Decade

It is well documented that New Zealand’s existing building code construction standards are well below similar temperate countries across the western world. Research shows the impact of damp, mouldy and poorly ventilated homes on the respiratory health of many New Zealanders. The latest changes to the Building Code will make new homes and buildings warmer, drier, and healthier, with less impact on the climate, a change that Comfortech Building Performance Solutions™ are extremely supportive of and believe is a significant step forward in improving living conditions for New Zealander’s.

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 and will reduce the energy needed to heat homes by up to 40 per cent, allowing people to heat their homes more easily and efficiently, which will lead to positive health impacts and increased energy savings for New Zealanders.

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to boost thermal performance is to increase roof insulation. The minimum amount of roof insulation required for new builds will now be required to be doubled across the country.

Windows represent the largest source of heat loss in new homes, so the minimum insulation level for windows will now need to be increased across the country, with a focus on targeted higher upgrades in colder climate zones.  Regions across New Zealand have very different climates and the six new climate zones announced today mean buildings will need to be constructed to different insulation levels to reflect this.

Summary of Changes

Residential - Housing will require R6.6 roofs and R0.46+ windows, R2.0 walls and R1.5+ slab on-grade floors. 


Commercial - The increase in R-value is much larger with a change in the coldest climates to R7 roofs and R3.2 walls with R2.6 slab on-grade will be a good change.

There will be a one year transition period for the sector to understand and prepare for the changes before they become mandatory in 2022. However, 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 levels.

At Comfortech™, our vision is to create the most comfortable living and working spaces for all New Zealander’s which is driving us to innovate and provide new solutions to deliver higher performing homes. With these changes confirmed, and the road map into the future clearer, Comfortech™ will embark on a new journey of investment to better enable our business to meet the pending demands in the broader insulation categories. Please get in contact with your Territory Manger or your contact here at Comfortech™ if you wish to understand these changes in more detail. 

For more information on these and other upcoming changes to the Building Code, please visit the 2021 Building Code Update section of the MBIE website.



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