NatHERS Star Issue 13 - December 2021

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

NatHERS 2021 - Year in Review

As we end another year which has been full of COVID challenges but also major achievements, we acknowledge the commitment and support of all our stakeholders. Your time, dedication and feedback on a range of new developments in the residential building space allows us to drive our work forward.

As you read about the various accomplishments below, please know that your continuing support has contributed to our successes.

Key Highlights
From the end of August our teams were busy supporting work on the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC) releasing several major reports, a guide on the draft Whole of Home Certificate and an explanatory video on how the whole of home assessment works in practice.
 
In September, the updated Your Home website and book was released. The new edition features a wealth of information on the latest emerging energy efficiency technologies, sustainable design practices and construction systems.

And in November, the NatHERS public consultation sought comments on the proposed changes to expand and improve home energy ratings.

What’s new?
As we prepare to implement Whole of Home ratings next year, you’ll find a new section in this newsletter highlighting the work that’s been underway to reduce home appliance energy consumption.

We hope you enjoy reading our Year in Review, and please have a safe, happy and healthy Festive Season.
The NatHERS Team

Exterior of a home built using prefabricated elements

In this edition

  • Launch of the new-look Your Home
  • NatHERS public consultation update
  • End of year NatHERS figures
  • Whole of Home and In Home news
  • NCC consultation
  • New Assessor Accrediting Organisation Protocol
  • Appliance energy efficiency update.

Your Home launch

The new edition of Your Home was released in September 2021 after a major technical and editorial update involving design, construction and technology experts.

Your Home is Australia’s trusted guide to buying, building and renovating to achieve a sustainable home that uses less energy, is cheaper to run and comfortable to live in.

Since September, the Your Home website has received over 190,000 visitors and more than 1,500 books have been sold.

The most recent edition includes new content on insulation products, glazing options, installation of hot water systems and renewable energy systems and batteries. There are also new chapters on condensation, ventilation and airtightness, as well as advice for building in bushfire-prone areas.

Your Home provides practical information for builders to help them meet, or exceed, minimum energy-efficiency performance building standards. The information is free online at www.yourhome.gov.au or you can buy the book via the link on the homepage.

An example of the Your Home book and website on an ipade

 Public consultation wraps up

Thank you to everyone who took part in, or shared the Improving the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) survey. The consultation closed on 16 December.

The high level findings from the survey and written submissions will be published in NatHERS news next year, and on the Consultation Hub. We anticipate sharing the findings in the first quarter of 2022.

NatHERS continues upward trend

NatHERS remains the most popular pathway to meet the NCC energy efficiency requirements with a long-term average of over 90% of all building approvals, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

NatHERS assessments continued an upward trend over 2021, with 196,326 new houses and apartments assessed between December 2020 and November 2021. This compares to a total of 152,252 for the previous period.

The overall average star rating for new dwellings has increased from 6.3 to 6.4 stars.

A breakdown of the star rating categories for newly approved dwellings shows the percentage rated between 6-6.9 stars increased only marginally over 2021 (now at 57% of new approvals). Those between 7-7.9 stars increased slightly (now at 16%) while those at 8 or more stars remained steady (at 5% of new building approvals).

A total of 94% of certificates produced were for energy assessments conducted by accredited assessors (up by 1% on the previous year).

You can see state-by-state and local breakdowns on the Australian Housing Data portal. 

Both the NatHERS and the updated Your Home website continue to perform well. Your Home remains one of the most popular specialist websites for the Department, with more than 960,000 visitors this year. The NatHERS website had over 64,000 visitors in the same time frame. 

Building on NatHERS extension

This year our teams have continued to work tirelessly developing the tools and governance required to expand NatHERS to offer both Whole of Home and In Home energy assessments.
 
The Whole of Home team published a summary of changes, and a guide to the draft Whole of Home Certificate. An explanatory video demonstrating how the assessment process will work using the Benchmark tool (AccuRate) was also released.
 
The FirstRate5 Pilot Tool was also endorsed during 2021, providing an early indication of the first NatHERS accredited Whole of Home tool.

The team also developed a suite of national calculation methodologies modelling the energy load of regulated appliances such as air conditioners and hot water systems. Working in partnership with industry the methodologies have been based on the best available science and data.

The In Home team has been busy developing elements of the new NatHERS In Home certificate, along with the supporting software tool and assessor transition and training strategy.

Various elements of the draft certificate are currently being market tested with householders. Once this research is complete, recommended changes will be incorporated into a draft In Home certificate and shared with industry and other stakeholder groups early next year.

Key work over the next year will be finalising technical documents and the assessor training and accreditation strategies. The NatHERS team is looking forward to continuing to work closely with industry partners and stakeholders.

Infographic shows the steps involved in producing a new Whole of Home rating

NCC 2022 Consultation

The NatHERS team also supported the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) consultation on proposed changes to the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC).

Several detailed reports were developed to ensure that NatHERS software can support changes including a key proposal to increase the minimum star rating from 6 to 7 stars and introduce a new energy usage budget.

The documents focus on thermal bridging, climate files, star bands and heating and cooling load limits. There is also an overview of how the new NatHERS Whole of Home ratings will support the NCC 2022 changes including information on tools, certificates and ratings.

You can find the summaries and full reports here.

Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) Link update

During 2021, work progressed on the Australian Glazing and Window Association (AGWA) WERS Link project which is improving the way assessors can model and compare windows.

The new window database will revolutionise the way window data is created, managed and distributed.

The WERS Link will underpin both the existing Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) database, as well as the NatHERS Custom Window Library within Accredited Software Tools.

Improvements for NatHERS software users will include:

  • Frequent, faster updates, and more accurate and consistent data
  • Enhanced filtering and search functions
  • Version control to allow window models to be updated or retired.

These exciting new features will be available with the upcoming NCC 2022-compliant versions of the NatHERS software tools, due for release at the end of 2022.

New Assessor Accrediting Organisations Protocol released

The Governance team released the updated Protocol for Assessor Accrediting Organisations in October.

This important document guides Assessor Accrediting Organisations (AAO’s) by outlining governance for accreditation, including quality assurance, conflicts of interest and communications.

One key change to ensure greater transparency has removed the option for accredited assessors to be registered with more than one AAO.

To help with this transition, assessors currently accredited with more than one organisation may retain their status until their annual membership is due to be renewed. At this time, they must select only one AAO to renew with. 

If you have any questions about this transition, or any other changes in the AAO Protocol, please email: admin@nathers.gov.au

Appliance energy efficiency news

During 2021 the Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) team has continued its work to reduce bills for households and businesses. They do this by delivering improvements in energy efficiency in appliances and equipment, while also working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Key items of work throughout 2021 have included:

  • A scoping study to identify a suite of new products for potential inclusion in the Government’s Prioritisation Plan. Both battery chargers and network equipment within the home have been identified as a high priority.
  • A product profile of residential space heaters was released in May to support the development of policy options for a dedicated labelling scheme. Labels and other information tools will help consumers to make more informed choices when purchasing heaters for their homes.
  • Work is also continuing to phase out inefficient halogen lamps. Minimum standards for LEDs are being proposed for both Australia and New Zealand . Projected consumer savings are $1.4 billion over the next decade – an average of over $200 annually per household.

Save the Date

  • National Energy Efficiency Conference: 25-26 May 2022.
  • NatHERS consultation feedback (TBC).