A government report has flung a scathing condemnation at Australia’s building industry energy performance.

The government-commissioned National Energy Efficiency Building Project looked at a range of problems and compliance issues for the National Construction Code's energy performance demands.

It found many issues were deeply entrenched and industry-wide, and there will have to be a fundamental shift for any meaningful change to happen.

The review, conducted by experts at the Swinburne University of Technology, assessed energy efficiency among over 1000 stakeholders.

In its conclusion, the paper says there are “a very large number of concerns” in the low rate of projects that actually meet existing energy benchmarks.

Some participants claimed that the Australian building industry has a “culture of sign-offs” on all parts of the supply chain.

This leads to endemic non-compliance with energy performance criteria, and has created a “pervasive culture of mediocre energy performance across the Australian building industry,” the review says.

“These concerns appear systemic in nature, in that they cover all aspects of the building supply chain and regulatory process and all building types,” said the review.

“Further, there was a remarkable degree of consistency in the views expressed and issues raised in all states and territories, despite widely varying building markets and conditions.”

The review found that attitudes were often to blame.

“The risks of corner-cutting are likely being raised by a widespread view...that house buyers are largely uninterested in energy efficiency outcomes,” said the review.

“Many industry professionals noted that this routinely translates into energy efficient designs or inclusions being ‘traded away’ during the design process, or not being specified in the first place.”

High-efficiency glazing was one of the most common energy-saving techniques to be traded for less efficient options.

The industry reps reported that consumers are uneducated about energy-efficiency choices and issues, and regulatory enforcement has been low.

State governments and the building industry complain that there is insufficient funding to properly undertake key duties such as audits.

The study also found that the focus on “as designed” instead of “as built performance” has caused regulators to give more attention to buildings on paper than focusing on the actual structures themselves.

It also said there is a lack of effective verification for the energy efficiency of building products, like the criteria for white goods, which makes it more difficult for designers, builders and residents to know just what kind of energy-saving is available.