NatHERS Star Issue 12 - September 2021

Monday, September 13, 2021

We appreciate that many across our industry continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated shutdowns across the country. Despite this, we are grateful for the continued support and engagement many of you have shown in the activities outlined in this newsletter. This progress could not have been achieved without your continued support and involvement.

During the first half of this year, the NatHERS team focused on the development and roll out of the government’s planned changes to the Scheme. This included having several productive well-attended workshops with stakeholders, the outcomes of which have ensured delivery timeframes are on track and changes to establish Whole of Home ratings and In Home assessments are informed by our stakeholders' views.

In August, NatHERS released information on the proposed changes that align with the NCC 2022. You can read more about the current NCC public consultation below.

Also in August, the first NatHERS In Home tool and assessor processes were endorsed - the National Scorecard Initiative. You can read more about what this means below.

In work underway to expand NatHERS to support the proposed changes to the NCC 2022, NatHERS has released a consultation version of the Benchmark Tool and endorsed Sustainability Victoria’s FirstRate5 Whole of Home Pilot Tool. For more information, please visit Sustainability Victoria’s website. More information about the expression of interest process and endorsement of Whole of Home is available here.

During November-December, the NatHERS team plans to conduct our own consultation on all of the NatHERS changes. You can also read more about this below.

Also in this edition

  • Check out what’s on the agenda for Sustainable House Day, due to kick off in September, and November’s Australian Residential Energy Rating Conference.
  • Learn how the soon to be released WERSLink portal is set to provide seamless window data transfer between WERS and NatHERS.
  • Find out how to spot a genuine NatHERS rating and take advantage of the special introductory offer for the NCC CPD course on Housing Energy Efficiency and much more!

We hope you enjoy this edition of NatHERS News!
The NatHERS Team

Exterior of home in Wright, ACT
Ben Wrigley (© Light House Architecture and Science)

NCC 2022 consultation

The Australian Building Codes Board is now seeking comment on proposed amendments to energy efficiency and condensation technical provisions for the National Construction Code 2022. For information on how to have your say visit the Australian Building Code Board website.

We are working to ensure that NatHERS is ready to support the NCC changes for 2022. A range of supporting material is available on the NatHERS website to align with NCC 2022 consultation dates.

Several new reports underpinning proposed changes to the NatHERS software have been released as part of the NCC consultation, for more information visit the NatHERS website. The research covers the climate file update, star band recalibrations, update of heating and cooling load limits and thermal bridging. Each report details background information, proposed changes, relevant impacts and the required updates to NatHERS.

Information has been released on how NatHERS is expanding to support the new whole of home energy budget proposed as part of NCC 2022. This includes a guide on the draft Whole of Home Certificate and an explanatory video that shows how the assessment process will work in practice using the NatHERS Whole of Home Benchmark tool (AccuRate). There is also an overview of the changes and a range of Frequently Asked Questions.

To find out how to access CSIRO's consultation version of AccuRate and the FirstRate5 Whole of Home Pilot Tool visit the NatHERS website.

The Whole of Home tools allow a wider range of appliances, and energy generation and storage options to be assessed, than under the NCC Deemed-to-Satisfy elemental provisions. This enables industry to be able to adopt the most cost-effective and tailored solutions to meeting compliance. It is estimated it will only take assessors an additional 10-15 minutes to undertake the whole of home assessment.

In other NCC related news the draft NCC Volumes 1 and 2 have new definitions for 'house energy rating software'. The proposed definitions make it clear that ‘house energy rating software’ includes both NatHERS software and NatHERS Certificates. This change will clarify that NatHERS Certificates are to be used rather than home-made certificates.

NatHERS Consultation

During November-December the NatHERS team will be consulting on all of the NatHERS changes, including: NatHERS Whole of Home, In Home and Thermal. The consultation will include:

  • Targeted information sessions
  • A survey
  • A discussion paper and detailed technical papers.

More details about this consultation process will be sent shortly.

NatHERS now offering 'In Home' energy assessments

The new National Scorecard Initiative is being phased into NatHERS. This will facilitate a consistent Australia-wide approach for assessing the energy performance of existing homes.
 
The extension of NatHERS to include voluntary ‘In Home’ assessments will mean over 9 million householders across Australia will now have the opportunity to measure the energy efficiency of their homes.

Assessments can be done without the need for plans or specifications. Trained and accredited national scorecard assessors will visit homes to provide a star rating certificate, with advice for owners on opportunities for improvement.
 
The Residential Energy Scorecard, originally developed by the Victorian Government, has received national support under a joint government initiative. It provides an assessment tool, and the framework for training and accrediting professionals to undertake assessments.

For further information, see NatHERS In Home.

Sustainable House Day 2021

Sustainable House Day is expanding this year into a month-long event, featuring a series of online webinars beginning on 20 September and culminating in a series of open homes across various locations on Sunday 17 October.

Our Your Home and NatHERS experts will be presenting webinars in the week of 20 September, sharing ideas and insights into sustainable and energy efficient living.

COVID restrictions permitting, community partners and home owners across Australia will be opening their doors to attendees. There will also be additional, inspiring homes on display virtually.

Visit the Sustainable House Day website for more information on this unique peer-to-peer education day, and to find out when you can tune in for the scheduled Your Home and NatHERS webinars. 

Australian Residential Energy Rating 2021 Conference

After two COVID-19 related postponements the Australian Residential Energy Rating Conference (ARER 2021) will go ahead as a fully virtual event in November.

Hosted by CSIRO and supported by NatHERS, ARER 2021 is a great networking opportunity for everyone involved in delivering cost effective, energy efficient and comfortable housing for Australians. With diverse speakers it is a key industry event featuring sessions on:

  • Energy efficiency from the perspectives of builders and energy assessors
  • Future regulations in the building energy efficiency space
  • Technical issues relating to building and energy efficiency
  • Energy ratings for apartments and existing houses.

Energy assessors, builders, architects, regulators, researchers and academics are all encouraged to participate. NatHERS accredited assessors who attend will qualify for CPD points.

Keep an eye on the CSIRO website for further details.

Update your NatHERS software

Assessors, don’t delay updating your NatHERS software.

Regular updates ensure you are operating with the most enhanced features, free from bugs, and you are also less likely to be scrutinised by Assessor Accrediting Organisations (AAOs) and regulators.

For regulatory purposes, all NatHERS assessors are required to use the most recent version of NatHERS software at the time an assessment starts. This supports the integrity of NatHERS with regulators, clients and other industry partners.

When you receive a new release notification from your software provider simply follow the links to download and install. Alternatively, set a regular diary reminder to head to your provider’s website, search for the latest software update and download.

In exceptional circumstances, which prevent the use of updated software, you must fully document the reasons and provide a summary in ‘additional notes’ on the NatHERS Certificate.

Find out more on the NatHERS accredited software page.

How to spot a genuine NatHERS rating

Genuine NatHERS Certificates are critical to the success and integrity of the Scheme. Thankfully there are a number of ways that anyone can check if a NatHERS Certificate is legitimate and conducted by a trained professional. Follow the steps below:

  • Click on the QR code. This cannot be manipulated and can be used to check that the Certificate is genuine and matches the version stored online. Cross check the certificate against the examples on the NatHERS website
  • Each NatHERS Certificate is unique. A watermark of the address will be visible on the front page.
  • Use accredited professionals who are registered with an Assessor Accrediting Organisation (AAO) and subject to a Code of Practice.
  • Ask if the latest software has been used. If not, why not?

Also, did you know that all NatHERS certificates contribute data to a national database of energy ratings managed by the CSIRO? This data is key to inform evidence-based policies for the residential sector.

An example of a genuine NatHERS certificate

WERSLink coming soon

The Australian Glazing and Window Association (AGWA) will be launching a new online portal featuring an updated workflow management system for the Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) in the coming months.

The WERSLink portal is the first step to improving data transfer between WERS and NatHERS. It will ultimately lead to full alignment of data, better searching and filtering of window details, and improved capacity to manage changes to window models over time (for example, a change of availability or specifications). The NatHERS team will be investigating integration options with our software developers.

Watch this space for further developments which may include a new default window library and new window substitution rules!

NCC CPD course on Housing Energy Efficiency

The Australian Building Codes Board has released a National Construction Code (NCC) Continuing Professional Development course on Housing Energy Efficiency for design practitioners.
 
The 2-hour course provides an understanding and overview of the energy efficiency provisions in NCC Volume Two, including an overview of the Deemed-to-Satisfy energy rating, elemental provisions pathways and Verification Methods.
 
Find out more, and take advantage of the special introductory offer here.

Predictive Weather Files for NatHERS

CSIRO has developed predictive weather files for NatHERS software based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 5th assessment report), Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP).
Weather files for 3 RCPs are available:

  • RCP 2.6 - GHG emissions peak around 2020 and then decline
  • RCP 4.5 - emissions peak in 2040
  • RCP 8.5 - little curbing of emissions

These are available free to download from the CSIRO Ag Climate Data Shop: https://acds.csiro.au/future-climate-predictive-weather. They will be useful for building designers and assessors interested in testing the performance of building designs under various climate scenarios but cannot be used for regulatory purposes.

Save the date

  • Sustainable House Day (SHD) activities - commence 20 September leading up to SHD on 17 October
  • ARER Conference 23-24 November
  • NatHERS Whole of Home and In Home consultation - late 2021- t.b.c.  

If you have any questions or concerns, please email: admin@nathers.gov.au