For the sake of simplicity this article refers generically to all architectural design professionals as architects. This is by no means intended to discredit either Registered Architects or Building Designers, and their similarities or unique differences as practicing professionals. 


What is Legislation and regulation?

Legislation is synonymous with statutory law; the legal requirements that are to be enforced. Regulations monitor and enforce the law. Legislation is drafted, proceeded through the legislative process, ratified and enacted. In Australia, legislation is produced by the three levels of government; Federal, State, & Local.

Federal Legislation & Regulators

National Construction Code (NCC)

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) produces and maintains the National Construction Code (NCC). The NCC is comprised of the Building Code of Australia (BCA), Volume One and Two; and the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA), Volume Three.

Volume One

Addresses class 2 to 9 (multi-residential, commercial, industrial and public) buildings and structures.

Volume Two

Addresses - Class 1 (residential) and Class 10 (non-habitable) buildings and structures.

Volume Three

Addresses - Plumbing and drainage for all classes of buildings.

The National Construction Code (NCC) provides the minimum necessary requirements for safety and health; amenity and accessibility, and sustainability in the design, construction, performance and livability of new buildings (and new building work in existing buildings) throughout Australia.

The NCC allows for 2 types of compliance solutions:

Performance (based) Solution

A method of complying with the Performance Requirements other than by a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.” ... When this approach is proposed, it is correctly referred to as a Performance Solution (or Alternative Solution).

Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution

Provides examples of materials, components, design factors, and construction methods which, if used, will result in compliance.


Australian Standards

Standards Australia describes standards as...

 “…documents setting out specifications,
 procedures and guidelines.
 They are designed to ensure product, services
 and systems are safe, reliable and consistent.”

The building and construction industry is only one of many sectors that Standards Australia provide these standards relating to multi-facets of use and practice within each sector. It is important that all architects become familiar with the relevant standards and refer to them when designing.  

Each standard consists of an ‘AS Number’, ‘(year of issue)’ and a ‘title’, describing the content of the standard.

For example:

AS 1100.101 (1992) Technical drawing – General principles

AS 1100.301 (2008) Technical drawing – Architectural drawing

AS 3660.1 (2000) Termite management systems

Here is the listing of the Australian Standards pertaining to Building and Construction.


National Energy Efficiency Requirements

For Housing -

Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS)

The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) is governed by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources on behalf of the states and territories. This star-rating system provides an estimate of a home’s potential energy use through assessing the products and construction systems used to either heat or cool the house.

Its intention is to help Australian residents to choose more energy efficient construction types and everyday products in the design phase, in order to reduce their consumption of energy throughout the building’s life cycle.

For Commercial Office Space -

Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC)

In order to create a performance rating system for office buildings, the Australian Government’s a national energy efficiency program called Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) a response to the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010 and including its 2015 amendment. The purpose of this program is that all office spaces over 1000sqm are required to obtain a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) before the building, or part thereof, is placed on the market. It’s energy efficiency rating is used as an advertising feature when advertised for either sale, lease, sale or sublease.

The BEEC consists of two assessments:

  • National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS)
  • Tenancy Lighting Assessment (TLA)

Only accredited assessors listed with the CBD can apply for a BEEC on behalf of building owners or lessors. Therefore, the design of an office space, whether newly constructed building or a new fit-out of an existing building, the architect must be mindful of this process of assessment for their clients.


For Urban Planning, Commercial and Residential (Voluntary)

Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA)

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), established in 2002, is a not-for-profit industry association that promotes sustainability in the built environment. The GBCA is best known for developing the Green Star rating system for buildings and communities.


Greenstar is Australia’s national and voluntary sustainable building rating system. Their aim is to minimize the impact and environmental footprint of a development on its surrounding community. It assesses different buildings, fit outs and communities. The higher the score (stars) achieved, the higher the rating and the more sustainable the building.

Greenstar has four rating tools:

  1. Communities – for large-scale, urban planning of precincts and suburbs
  2. Interiors – interior fit outs
  3. Design and As Built – design and construction of a building
  4. Performance - operational performance of a building

The ‘Design and As Built’ Rating Tool has 9 categories that are assessable:

  1. Management
  2. Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ)
  3. Energy
  4. Transport
  5. Water
  6. Materials
  7. Land Use and Ecology
  8. Emissions
  9. Innovation

 There are five steps to achieve certification:

  1. Register - Register your project online
  2. Document - Get technical support, understanding benchmarks and submission guidelines.
  3. Submit - Compile your submission documentation
  4. Assess - Submit documentation for assessment
  5. Certify - Green Star certified rating achieved


State Legislation & Regulators

State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPP)

State Environmental Planning Policies or SEPP's are environmental planning instruments that deal with matters of State or Regional environmental planning significance. The effect of a SEPP is that it can override a LEP and can prohibit certain types of development or can allow development in a certain zone 

Building Assessment Sustainability Index (BASIX)

BASIX is a NSW Government planning measure to reduce household electricity and water use by setting minimum sustainability targets for new and renovated homes. BASIX is one of the ways that energy targets are measured, and mandatory levels are required to be met in New South Wales.

BASIX identifies design features that will affect the likely level of thermal comfort and water and energy use per household such as location, building size, orientation and construction type, landscaping and fixtures. It sets minimum targets that must be achieved before a BASIX certificate can be generated, and then submitted as part of a development application or application for complying development. Water and energy use effects everyone and BASIX will continue to lead the way in lowering household energy and water use and costs.


Local Legislation & Regulators 

Local Environmental Plan (LEP)

local environmental plan (LEP) is a legal document that provides controls and guidelines for development in an area. It determines what can be built, where it can be built, and what activities can occur on land. LEPs contain both a written instrument and maps. While LEP’s relate to local jurisdictions (council’s), in NSW they are managed by the State government, and accessed via

Development Control Plan (DCP)

Development Control Plans (DCPs) contain specific controls to guide certain types of development, and achieve particular development outcomes within certain areas. A DCP is a supplementary development guideline that supports Council's primary planning instrument, a local environmental plan (LEP). 


Other authorities and influencers

There are other governmental departments and authorities that may have an effect on the design, estimation of price of resources, and process of implementation/ construction of a project.

For example, in the Sydney Metropolitan area of NSW, these may include:  

  • Safework NSW – Specific requirements as per WHS legislation to be enforced
  • NSW Environment Protection Authority – specific requirements as per environmental legislation
  • Sydney Water – as per water and sewerage requirements
  • Energy Australia – as per energy/ electrical requirements
  • National Trust – Historic/Heritage requirements





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The information contained in the article and website are general in nature and are the opinions of the author, through his professional experience and study. This should not be substituted for seeking professional or legal advice in this area. Click here for more details of our content.