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In the Building Code of Australia, BCA Section J sets the criteria for a non residential building to meet the energy efficiency requirements of the BCA in order to satisfy the Local Government Area Council of a development for issuing a Construction Certificate. Since the introduction of the BCA 2010, Section J has seen the most significant changes compared to all other sections of the BCA and energy efficiency requirements of this section has become far more stringent compared to previous releases of the BCA. Not only the structure of this section is changed, there are many new technologies and elements in relation to the energy efficiency performance of a commercial building that now must be evaluated versus the BCA Section J requirements.

BCA Section J 2010 addresses the following elements of the building design with regard to energy efficiency requirements:

  • Building Fabric
  • Glazing
  • Sealing
  • Air Conditioning and Ventilation Systems
  • Artificial Lighting and Power
  • Hot Water Supply, Swimming Pool and Spa Plants
  • Access for Maintenance and Facilities for Monitoring

For the first time, BCA 2010 renewable energy is considered a form of reduction in Green House Gas Emission of a development and its utilization in a building is now recognized although the only venue to introduce the higher performance of renewable energy inclusion in the building design is via the alternative solution JV3 or verification using reference building and a regular BCA Section J report does not have any compliance instrument to include the use of this allowance toward better compliance. Also it is required that a development to obtain its energy from a source that has a Green House Gas Intensity of less than 100 g CO2-e/MJ of thermal energy load or from other renewable or reclaimed energy sources. This practically means that you must utilize the Natural Gas as the source of energy in your development wherever available and for any means of energy generation which it can be used adequately. The Verification Method using the reference building in the BCA Section J 2010 is now more detailed and use of renewable energy is recognized in the simulation. All Deemed to Satisfy Parts i.e. Parts J0 to J8 are more or less changed. Part J4 is now left Blank and its provisions are scattered in other parts in a more appropriate manner. Swimming Pools, Spa Plants and energy consumption monitoring devices are also totally new in 2010 version.

What these changes mean to building industry professionals is a very scenario specific matter. Some of the more advanced commercial buildings in Australia already surpassing the energy efficiency requirements of the new BCA by a considerable amount to satisfy requirements of other sustainability schemes like Green Star, NABERS or BEEC for promotional purposes but for some developers and building owners the new BCA Section J provisions might seem overwhelming and very taxing on the design and construction budgets. Eventually as the BCA regulations are being enforced there would be more technology and public awareness to satisfy the energy efficiency requirements of the BCA Section J but for the current transitional period of moving into a much higher level of energy efficiency in a short time period, there will be many situations when the building design is finished while a BCA Section J assessment has not been performed during the design stage. It is now more likely than before that a building does not satisfy the requirements of the BCA and drastic and major changes are required in the layout, insulation level, windows and appliance performance, lighting etc before a commercial building can achieve a Construction Certificate from Australian Local Government Authority Councils.

Talking from experience, the most confusing scenarios which unfortunately lead to the least educated solutions arise when councils want a BCA Section J report to be submitted for an alterations and additions project where only a number of walls or windows are being replaced following the energy efficiency provisions of the BCA and the building’s envelope integrity is not preserved. The results are more adequate for new developments when the whole building’s envelop and its services are being designed under a single unified energy efficiency approach. If you want to know more about BCA Section J in general please visit my BCA Section J page and its associated pages at Eco Certificates Website.