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  • Writer's pictureKelvin Mureithi

NSW Sustainable Buildings SEPP (Oct 2023)

Updated: Jan 28


The Backstory

New South Wales has embarked on a transformative journey with the introduction of the Sustainable Buildings State Environmental Planning Policy 2022 (SEPP). This policy represents a significant shift in NSW’s approach to environmentally sustainable development (ESD). The policy was made in August 2022 and became effective on 1 October 2023. The next review will be in 2025.

With the goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, improving the environmental performance of new buildings is critical, especially considering that the building sector is responsible for a substantial portion of Australia’s carbon emissions.

Catchup Quick: Key Features of the NSW Sustainable Buildings SEPP

The Sustainable Buildings SEPP is designed to set unprecedented standards in energy, water, and material use for new residential and commercial developments. It's a first-of-its-kind policy in NSW, aiming to significantly reduce emissions from the built environment, in line with the state’s 50% emissions reduction target by 2030.

Why It Matters

Expanded Scope and Stringent Standards

  • For Residential Buildings: The SEPP enhances the existing BASIX system, increasing efficiency standards and introducing new measures like the BASIX Materials Index.

  • For Commercial Developments: It’s the first time that non-residential buildings are included, with mandatory energy and water efficiency standards, and embodied emissions reporting.

Regular Review Cycles

The policy includes provisions for regular reviews, ensuring that the standards can be progressively strengthened, moving towards the goal of zero carbon buildings.

Evolution of the Policy: Building on BASIX

The Sustainable Buildings policy has evolved from its original form in two primary ways:

From BASIX to Broader Applications

  • The Sustainable Buildings SEPP is an evolution from the BASIX system, introduced in 2004, which focused on reducing water and energy consumption in new residential buildings.

  • Unlike its predecessor, the SEPP widens its scope beyond homes, incorporating sustainability measures for various non-residential developments.

Alignment with National Standards

It aligns with the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 updates in areas like thermal performance, ensuring consistency with national regulations.

Let's Take a Closer Look at the Details of the Key Changes

NSW now has a whole-of-economy targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Residential Developments

  • Updated BASIX standards with increased energy and water efficiency.

  • The introduction of the BASIX Materials Index for new homes and renovations.

Non-Residential Developments

  • New sustainability measures for buildings over 1000 sqm, including energy and water efficiency standards.

  • Requirements for "net zero" statements and all-electric developments or transition plans by 2035.

What Does This Mean for NSW?

Environmental Benefits

  • Significant reduction in carbon emissions and water usage.

  • Progress towards NSW's net zero goal and improved climate resilience.

Industry Impact

  • Initial challenges with implementation costs.

  • Long-term benefits in energy productivity and asset value.

Implementation and Review: Ensuring Success

Transition and Support

  • A 1-year transition period for industry adaptation.

  • Government guidance and upgraded compliance tools.

Ongoing Review and Refinement

  • 3-yearly reviews to expand scope and tighten targets.

  • Continued collaboration with industry for feasible and practical changes.

Looking Ahead: A New Era in Sustainable Planning

The Sustainable Buildings SEPP sets a new benchmark in sustainable planning in NSW. It represents a significant step towards reducing emissions from new buildings and transitioning towards zero carbon buildings. The policy not only focuses on current needs but also lays the groundwork for continuous improvement and adaptation.


Get Expert Assistance: Contact Makao for expert advice and support in navigating the BASIX, ESD, or Net Zero related requirements. Our team is committed to helping you achieve compliance and contribute to a sustainable future in NSW.


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