H1 Building Code update: Change for the better?

By Knauf Insulation APAC
August 08, 2022

Specification and Regulatory Affairs Manager,Steve Smith explores the importance of H1 Building Code changes and provides some insight into benefits, further potential changes and implementation solutions.

H1 Building Code update: Change for the better?

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has announced a 6 month delay to the proposed adoption of new Energy Efficiency (H1) requirements for insulating new homes in the New Zealand Building Code, following feedback from the industry. However, changes for commercial buildings will stick to the initial timeline.

The purpose of these updates is in a bid to reduce the energy required to heat new buildings by up to 40% and help make them warmer, drier and healthier, with less impact on the environment. Our Specification and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Steve Smith explores the importance of H1 Building Code changes and provides some insight into benefits, further potential changes and implementation solutions.

New Zealand to Catch Up

It is certainly in the nation's interest economically to embrace the proposed changes to H1, and other countries have already taken the steps to implement similar changes in a bid to improve the overall building performance, reduce energy consumption and progress toward carbon neutrality. While New Zealand has been seen as slow to react to climate issues, H1 changes actually received the highest level of submissions of any building code amendment in history.


Benefits of H1 Update

There are significant benefits to the proposed changes to H1 insulation regulations, and in the long term, buildings and homeowners would see a financial and health improvement across the board. Firstly, newly built homes would be future-proofed, with little to no further improvements required as the world becomes more centred on energy efficiency. Next, less energy consumption means reduced energy bills, which in itself positions improved insulation as a priority improvement and enhancement to new buildings. Additionally, a reduced fluctuation in indoor temperature and the acoustic features of insulation allows for a more comfortable and relaxed environment. The use of glasswool for this insulation is particularly beneficial due to its resistance against conducting heat. The thermal properties of the material make it the perfect option for reducing heat loss and providing a thermal benefit.


Another key consideration for the increased insulation in new homes is the health benefits that it potentially offers. According to  Asthma New Zealand, statistics show that the conditions of around 53% of Kiwi homes are a known human rights issue, with asthma and other respiratory diseases presenting a worrying problem as 13% of two to 14-year olds and 12% of adults suffer from asthma. This positions New Zealand as the second-worst country for asthma. The diseases are linked directly to cold, damp and mouldy housing, which is something that increased insulation, would help to combat.


Choosing the right insulation partner

It is crucial to find a partner to work with for insulation, particularly one that is a true expert in the field. Expert insulation partners will assist specifiers in selecting the right products for the right applications to ensure that not only is the building compliant, but as energy-efficient as possible. Insulation is only effective when installed correctly and in the right areas, so pick a partner to work with that truly knows every aspect of what is required. 

Knauf Insulation’s extensive product range provides the flexibility required from builders and designers when using calculation methods of design, which is essential in the H1 Building Code. Our latest technology includes TwinTech and proprietary fibre technology, which gives Knauf Insulation the ability to produce single layer, high R-value insulation products that are efficient, quick to install, and importantly, compliant. Knauf Insulation have the intention of sticking to the original deadline offered by MBIE, and as such will be launching a wide range of new solutions ready for this date.

The importance of supporting potential changes to H1 cannot be understated, and MBIE must take heed of the risks associated with not making these H1 changes sooner.