August 28, 2020
On 27 May 2020 CSIRO held the first Australian Energy Rating Webcast covering:
- Next steps for the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings – Jodie Pipkorn Director of the Residential Buildings and NatHERS Policy Team of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
- NCC Residential Energy Efficiency Project – Audrey Chen of the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB)
- Insights from Victoria’s Energy Efficiency Audit Program – Katrina Woolfe and Alberto Garza Barragán of the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Full transcript available here: csiro.au/CorporateAffairs/Vimeo/Energy-Rating-Webcast-May-2020/video-transcript
About 60 questions were asked and comments made which were too many to address in the webcast so the following paragraphs have been provided to cover the aspects raised by the questioners.
A number of participants asked if they could gain CPD points for attending the webcast.
As it was the first webcast, we didn’t organise for CPD points. But after the success of the webinar we have made available CPD points for participants of future webinars.
National Construction code (NCC)
The NCC provides the minimum necessary requirements for the design, construction, performance and liveability of new buildings (and new building work in existing buildings) to achieve: safety and health, amenity, accessibility as well as sustainability.
Energy efficiency is a core focus of the ABCB and forms part of the Australian, state and territory governments’ strategies to improve energy productivity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After focusing on commercial building energy efficiency in NCC 2019, the emphasis of the NCC 2022 energy efficiency work is on residential buildings.
For those interested in finding out more, the NCC energy efficiency project is available here:
Answers to some commonly asked questions in relation to the NCC energy efficiency project for residential buildings can be found here:
Whole of house ratings (WOH)
There were a few questions covering WOH. The NatHERS website has information that covers most of the questions. In particular – ”Soon NatHERS will also include information about the energy performance of the appliances (heating and cooling appliances, hot water, lighting, pool/spa pumps and on-site energy generation and storage) and information about the overall energy performance of the home (thermal performance combined with appliances).” From https://www.nathers.gov.au/blog/nathers-being-expanded-include-whole-home-assessments
Net Zero Carbon
Regarding the potential for regulations on net zero carbon housing, “The Council of Australian Governments Energy Council (COAG Energy Council) has developed and endorsed the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings a national plan that aims to achieve zero energy and carbon-ready buildings in Australia, as a key initiative to address Australia’s 40% energy productivity improvement target by 2030 under the National Energy Productivity Plan”. See https://www.energy.gov.au/government-priorities/energy-productivity-and-energy-efficiency/trajectory-low-energy-buildings
There is currently no national or state commitment to implement mandatory disclosure. The National Energy Productivity Plan measure 5 commits the Commonwealth Government to undertake work ‘including options for implementing a national approach to residential building energy ratings and disclosure’. Assessment of existing homes will likely require a visit to the site and a review of plans. The assessor signing off on the rating will be responsible to ensure that the data used is validated. At this stage the tool requirements aren’t defined in detail as a number of options are still being evaluated.
All assessors must upgrade their NatHERS software to one using the latest version of the NatHERS calculation Engine (v3.21) by the end of July 2020 unless the project already has an existing NatHERS certificate
In all NatHERS software, all internal doors are assumed 100% sealed (no infiltration between). However, the internal door is allowed to open for ventilation purposes. The effect of this ventilation through garage on star rating is generally small.
The aim of the current work program is to make sure tools are being used properly and that there are systems and processes that will allow for the whole of house measurement. For WOH There will be a base requirement for heating and cooling loads and then that to net zero there will be options that the builder and designer can follow to get the most cost-effective path for the house purchaser.
The availability of data in a central database allows for newly developed tools to check for anomalies and identify training or compliance requirements that may be necessary.
The Energy Efficiency Audit program assessed 2,500 Victorian homes under construction to better understand how new homes are complying with the energy efficiency requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC). This is the largest audit of its type in Australia, and it is a collaborative effort by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), guided by a project steering committee consisting of representatives from both organisations.
The program was designed to increase the evidence base of energy efficiency compliance in the Victorian context, support industry skills and further inform appropriate state government responses to issues identified.
The audits involved both assessments of construction documentation and site visits of homes under construction. They involved checks that the required insulation, glazing, sealing, shading, lighting features, solar hot water and rainwater tanks were installed in accordance with the approved building permit. A comparison between the NatHERS rating report and building permit was also conducted for at least 1,800 properties.
Audit sites were identified at random using VBA’s permit levy data, taking into consideration targets for geographical regions and NCC building classes (Class 1ai, 1aii and 2) that ensured the sample appropriately reflected residential construction activity across Victoria. A program report will be released later this year, presenting compliance findings for these different variables.
Assessor accrediting organisations (AAO)
The three AAOs have different approaches to supporting their members and auditing their members work. As long as they maintain the requirements of the ‘Protocol for Assessor Accrediting Organisations’ there is no intention to require them all to operate in the same way.