The Building Code of Australia is produced and maintained by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) on behalf of the Australian Government and State and Territory Governments. The BCA has been given the status of building regulations by all States and Territories.

The goals of the BCA are to enable the achievement and maintenance of acceptable standards of structural sufficiency, safety (including safety from fire), health and amenity for the benefit of the community now and in the future.

The BCA contains technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures, covering such matters as structure, fire resistance, access and egress, services and equipment, and certain aspects of health and amenity.

BCA is adopted through State and Territory Legislation – Building Acts and Regulations

  What is the BCA?    What is the BCA?

Energy Efficiency

The objective of the Energy Efficiency section in BCA is to reduce the emission of Greenhouse Gasses.

Energy Efficiency is using less energy in buildings for heating and cooling. This can be achieved by:
-  Improving the performance of heating, cooling, lighting
-  Reducing the size of the services
-  Reducing the use of services

Energy, in the form of gas electricity and oil is used by building services for heating, cooling, lighting, ventilation and hot water supply.

The process of energy generation releases greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

The 6 Star Energy Equivalence Rating of a building is determined by the design of its envelope or shell – roofs, walls, floors and windows.

The rating is out of 10 stars. Higher star rating means higher the energy efficiency and the comfort of the building.

An energy equivalence rating does not take into consideration a house’s fixtures and appliances, such as hot water systems, air conditioners, lighting and fridges.

Please click here for more information on Energy Efficiency.


Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) was introduced by the NSW Government in 2004 before the introduction of BCA Energy Efficiency requirements in 2006.

For NSW, BCA 2010 still refers back to BCA 2009 for Class 1 Residential Buildings
“For Class 1 and 10 buildings subject to BASIX, the BCA energy efficiency provisions of BCA 2009 as varied by the NSW Appendix are applicable.”

BASIX ensures homes are built to be more energy and water efficient.

BASIX is on-line program that assesses a house or unit design, and compares it against energy and water reduction targets. The design must meet these targets before a BASIX Certificate can be printed.

Every development application for a new home must be submitted to Council with a BASIX Certificate.

BASIX uses information such as site location, house size, type of building materials and fittings for hot water, cooling and heating.

For more information please click here to visit the BASIX website

Climate Zones

BCA deemed to satisfy provisions provide minimum requirements for building fabric (roofs, walls and floors) insulation based on eight Australian Climate Zones.

For more information please click here to visit the Building Code of Australia’s website.

  ICANZ Handbook    ICANZ Handbook

Australian Standards

It is important to choose the right insulation for each building application and where applicable (e.g. BCA requirements) the minimum energy efficiency, acoustic ratings, fire and safety requirements.

There are many types of building materials available for use as thermal and acoustic insulation. Most have distinctive appearances, unique characteristics and differing performance levels - and as such are measured and tested differently for BCA compliance.

ASINZS 4859.1 2002 Materials for thermal insulation of buildings Part 1 : General criteria and technical provisions. This is the foundation insulation Standard and is called up in the BCA.

The Standard has:

  • categories by type of Insulation (e.g. low-density fibrous batts and blankets, loose fill insulations, reflective membranes) -    Different sampling and standard test methods and for each insulation type.
  • Performance criteria (e.g. for blankets and balls a 10% shortfall in thickness could result in 5% loss in thermal performance, loose
  • Fill cellulose density and thickness coverage requires consistency to meet thermal performance claims, and dust or air leakage will reduce thermal performance of reflective foil insulation).
  • Performance claims guidelines by type of insulation (e.g. Material R for batts and loose fill, Total R for foil).
  • Required labelling, product disclosures and safety information to comply with this Standard.
  • AS/NZS 4200.1 1994.1 'Pliable building membranes and underlay’s - Material" is relevant for reflective insulation materials and is cross referenced in AS/NZS 4859.1

Fire Standards

AS/NZS 48S9.1 DOES NOT cover insulation fire properties by type. The main reference fire performance tests are AS1530.1 non combustibility (the most stringent test); AS1530.2 - surface fire performance for facings and foils, and AS1530.3 general indices for batts and loose fill.

Compliance testing

In order to demonstrate compliance with AS/NZS 48S9.1, testing must be performed by a recognised laboratory relevant to this Standard. Test results are valid for 5 years. In recent times noncompliance with this requirement has increased. A provision of this Standard is that copies of test reports, and where required, calculation reports, are to be made available on request for verification.

Installed insulation

Correct installation is all-Important to achieving the claimed thermal performance.
Installing Insulation can be classified into distinct sections:

1.    Bulk insulation

a.    Batts and blankets (e.g. glasswool, Rockwool, polyester, sheep wool).
b.    Loose fill materials (e.g. macerated paper (cellulose fibre), blown glasswool and granulated Rockwool).

2.    Reflective foils

a.    Reflective Insulations (e.g. single and double sided fall laminates, bubble wrap, foam foil-faced wrap).

3.    Others

a.    Rigid Boards.
b.    Foam insulation.

Insulation Installation standards for bulk insulations

AS 3999-1992 Thermal insulation of dwellings – Bulk insulation installation requirements is the current Standard for bulk insulation installations. Provisions in this standard cover the importance of:


  • Site Inspections prior to proceeding with Installation.
  • Perimeter edge restraints and protective barriers for down lights, flues, fans etc. for loose fill insulations.
  • Minimum clearances from ceiling penetrations such as flues, fans and downlights.
  • Some jurisdictions also refer to provisions in AS/NZS 3000 2007 Clause 4.5.23 for installation of insulation around down lights. Insulations that cannot satisfy criteria of
  • Sub-sections (a), (b) or (c) are required to meet the default provisions of subsection (d). (Refer to manufacturers as compliance differs by insulation type).
  • Electric cabling and separators from insulation in stated circumstances.
  • Snug fitting, butted to timbers and joists. Non-compliance to insulation gaps in AS3999 can cause significant losses in the thermal efficiency of insulation. This has been recognised in the BCA where added insulation requirements are included in a calibrated table of adjustments for the % of uninsulated ceiling area. Refer to BCA tables Vol 1 : J1.3b and Vol 2:

For more information please click here to visit the Australian Standard’s website.