Lack of adequate documentation has emerged as a major impediment to efforts to improve the dismal energy performance of Australia's buildings.

The report for the second phase of the National Energy Efficient Building Project (NEEBP) has found that efforts to improve the energy performance of Australia’s built assets via measures such as as-built inspections and electronic building passports will face major hurdles due to a lack of adequate documentation processes.

The Phase 1 report, which was released towards the end of 2014, gave a scathing assessment of the efficiency levels of the nation’s built assets, pointing in particular to “a pervasive culture of mediocre energy performances across the Australian building industry.”

Phase 2 saw the development of two pilot projects to address the endemic problems highlighted by Phase 1 – an as-built inspections project and a project for the development of an electronic building passports system.

The New Home Energy Efficiency Compliance Inspections Project involved the creation of an “as built” process of inspection for assessing compliance with the energy efficiency requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC).

The project conducted a total of 86 inspections on 59 homes situated in nine councils throughout a range of Australia’s climate zones.

The pilot project struggled to produce accurate assessments, however, failing to determine whether 30 of the 59 homes inspected were compliant, due to inability to conduct appraisals of areas that remained incomplete or were difficult to view.

The main takeaway from the pilot project was that as-built inspections would need greater use of documentation if they were to successfully monitor the energy performance of homes, as well as better scheduling of visits by inspectors so that certain building parts – such as insulation and glazing, could be viewed prior to concealing.

The Electronic Building Passport project conducted by pitt&sherry in conjunction with researchers at the Queensland University of Technology, also faced major challenges in its efforts to create a system of standard documentation on the energy performance of buildings.

The project uncovered a widespread lack of documentation on building energy performance for ensuring compliance with code energy requirements. In addition to impeding the creation of a building passport system for providing key information to stakeholders, it is also compromising the energy efficiency of new housing stock that is coming online.

“Documentation and information tracking processes operating within the building standards and compliance systems are not working to assure compliance with code’s energy performance requirements,” said the executive summary.”None of the participating councils are currently compiling all of the energy performance-related documentation that would demonstrate code compliance.”

“As a result it is likely that the new housing stock is under-performing relative to policy expectations, consuming unnecessary amounts of energy, imposing unnecessarily high energy bills on occupants, and generating unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.”