Issue 1 - December 2015
A (comfortably) warm welcome to the first edition of the Nationwide House Energy Ratings Scheme (NatHERS) Star!
At a workshop earlier this year, participants called for regular updates on developments to NatHERS. And we listened. This six-monthly newsletter will showcase recent developments in policy, software, training and residential energy efficiency standards that are of interest to people using or else are otherwise interested in the scheme – including assessors, Assessor Accrediting Organisations (AAOs), researchers, builders and homeowners across Australia. You have been sent this initial newsletter as you are currently on the NatHERS stakeholder mailing list; however we would ask that you subscribe to continue to receive future updates.
In this inaugural edition of the NatHERS Star, we provide updates on recent NatHERS Administrator activity, BERS Pro software accreditation, the new Universal Certificate system, our free set of NatHERS 7-Star house plans, progress on assessor Certificate IV training requirements and provide some tips on how and why you should become a NatHERS Accredited Assessor.
We are aiming to make this newsletter as useful as possible for our readers and so would like to receive any feedback and suggestions for future articles you might have. We are also happy for you to forward this newsletter on to anyone who you think might be interested in subscribing.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any new ideas for articles or else wish to subscribe to receiving this newsletter in future.
Enjoy the read and we hope you have a happy festive season!
The NatHERS Administrator team
NatHERS Administrator Update
The last few months have been a busy time for the NatHERS Administrator, with the team having recently developed a new NatHERS Strategic Plan, and then commenced work on its delivery. The plan sets out the overall vision for NatHERS, its core mission and values, the context in which it operates and includes its forward work plan (as current in July 2015).
Activities in the forward work plan that may be of interest to readers include:
Re-establishing the NatHERS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) (made up of expert technical representatives from key industry sectors) to guide improvements to the NatHERS Software tools,including the introduction of new materials and products
Working with AAOs to draft a new protocol for their operation
Progressing a Preliminary Impact Assessment of the effects of proposed updates to the NatHERS Climate files
Reviewing NatHERS governance arrangements and operating model
Working with NatHERS accredited software providers to update the NatHERS Software Protocol
Progressing communications planning and activities (including this newsletter!)and
Working extensively with Energy Inspection (the new owners of the BERS Pro software tool currently accredited under NatHERS) to accredit updates to the latest version of its software (further detail on this is covered in the article below)
We will continue to progress items in the plan over the next few months with the aim of improving the transparency, quality and clarity of NatHERS operation. If you’d like to know more please visit our website www.nathers.gov.au.
Free innovative, energy-efficient housing designs
Wondering how to achieve a minimum 7 star energy rating for your new home or that of a client?
Would you like access to energy-efficient housing designs without having to pay any money?
Well now you can as the Australian Government recently coordinated the development of a suite of architect-designed plans showcasing the use of sustainable design principles for home design and construction (called Design For Place). These are free to download!
If you are an assessor you could suggest some of these design ideas to your clients in order to improve their energy efficiency rating. Design for Place offers:
Learning opportunities on the fundamental principles of designing for climate, orientation and livability
Flexible information which can be tailored to meet the needs of your specific project
Accessible and easy to understand information, plans and energy rating results to illustrate key design principles
Practical design elements that can be applied to improve the average quality and energy efficiency of current mass-market housing
We have received feedback that people who use the plans as a concept and take them to their own architect, builder or designer to adapt, could save in the order of $10,000 (the average cost of the first concept and basic drawings). As mentioned by the Hon Karen Andrews, the Assistant Minister for Science
“in addition to savings in the design process, the ongoing cost of running a household would be minimised. By building in elements like natural lighting, cross-flow ventilation and passive heating and cooling opportunities from the outset, home owners can save on ongoing energy costs for years to come.”
North elevation view of a Design for Place house.
Additional single and two storey designs suitable for a range of block sizes and climate zones may be added to the Design For Place suite in the future. To get started you can download the Design For Place brochure or watch our introductory video.
Becoming NatHERS Accredited
Questions commonly put to the NatHERS Administrator include “Why should I become a NatHERS Accredited Assessor?” and “How do I become accredited?” In this first issue of the NatHERS Star we thought it would be good to spend some time discussing these points.
If you’re not already a NatHERS Accredited Assessor, you might want to consider whether you should be. There are many advantages to becoming NatHERS accredited. To name a few:
As an accredited assessor, you will receive ongoing support from your Assessor Accrediting Organisation (AAO), including:
advice in relation to accuracy, consistency and repeatability of assessments
technical support and regular updates about industry change and
easy access to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities
Through your AAO, a NatHERS Accredited Assessor may have access to cheaper business insurance options.
By completing the Certificate IV in NatHERS, a NatHERS Accredited Assessor has nationally recognised qualifications in home energy efficiency assessment
NatHERS Accredited Assessors can generate Universal Certificates displaying the NatHERS logo and label
NatHERS Accredited Assessors are able to perform BASIX assessments in NSW and are able to easily prove to a Building Surveyor that they are sufficiently competent to complete a house building energy rating in all Australian states and territories
Through their AAOs, accredited assessors are kept up to date on:
new, or changes to, NatHERS policies and operations
significant changes to the NatHERS software
upcoming events being organised by the NatHERS Administrator and
changes to jurisdictional application of NatHERS ratings in building regulations
There are two nationally recognised bodies through which you can become an accredited assessor, the Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) and the Australian Building Sustainability Association Ltd (ABSA) (previously known as the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors before a recent name change).
Becoming a NatHERS Accredited Assessor essentially involves:
Getting in contact with either ABSA or BDAV and becoming a member and
Meeting their (and our) requirements to become accredited, which include attaining a ‘Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment’ qualification (a list of Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) offering the training can be found on the MySkills website).
Further details about how to become accredited are available on our website.
New NatHERS Universal Certificate
Under new arrangements progressively coming into effect with recent updates to NatHERS accredited software tools, soon all NatHERS accredited software rating tools will display home energy rating assessment information using one of the two certificate formats shown below.
The coloured form on the left (which displays the NatHERS logo) is the new NatHERS Universal Certificate for NatHERS Accredited Assessors and the black and white form on the right is the House Energy Rating Certificate for Non‑accredited Assessors.
This new Universal Certificate system presents a more comprehensive and uniform approach to collecting and presenting key home energy rating assessment information. The Certificate will allow users, including builders, certifiers and regulatory authorities, to quickly understand the energy rating of a home, to collect consistent information about the thermal performance and to easily confirm that the building design (on which the energy rating assessment is based) is the same as what is built. The NatHERS Administrator will continue to work with software providers to improve the Universal Certificate system following its implementation in all NatHERS accredited software tools (in 2016).
Coupled with the introduction of the new Universal Certificate system, some software providers have chosen to move to new licencing arrangements which charge users fees for using their software on a per-certificate basis. Noting the NatHERS Administrator plays no role in setting fees in what is a commercial market, software users should contact their software provider with any questions on costs they might have
BERS Pro accreditation update
BERS Pro is one of the NatHERS accredited software tools that are used in regulatory mode to perform NatHERS assessments. You may be aware that the ownership of BERS Pro has recently changed.
The new owners of BERS Pro software, Energy Inspection are currently working through a staged process to gain accreditation of updates to the BERS Pro software tool.
Under present accreditation arrangements, existing users of BERS Pro are able to use BERS Pro software v4.2.110811 to perform NatHERS assessments under existing terms and conditions, this will continue until 1 February 2016.
Energy Inspection is also accredited under NatHERS to offer a version of its updated software tool BERS Pro, v188.8.131.52 (3.13) to market, but currently this accreditation is subject to conditions, such that it is only able to model stand-alone Class 1 buildings and dwellings (buildings without shared walls with another building or dwelling). Additionally this version can only be offered to market once some aspects of the tool and its use, such as supporting training and its inputs into the Universal Certificate, have been further developed (see our website for further details).
Rather than release BERS Pro, v184.108.40.206 (3.13) to market, Energy Inspection has been busily working on a new version of its software with improved functionality and user training to support its release. In this regard Energy Inspection is in active discussions with NatHERS Administrator about software functionality and requirements.
Under the current staged process agreed to by the Commonwealth and various state and territory governments (which the NatHERS Administrator operates on behalf of), the NatHERS Administrator will publish updates about the progress of Energy Inspection in meeting its staged accreditation requirements following the completion of each accreditation stage (in early February 2016 and again in early April 2016). This is ahead of the current conditional short term accreditation for BERS Pro v220.127.116.11 (3.13) expiring on 1 May 2016.
Should Energy Inspection achieve the staged accreditation requirements it has been set sooner than these times, we will publish updates on our website (and let our AAO colleagues know) as soon as we can.
Reminder to Assessors of Certificate IV deadline
We would like to remind existing NatHERS Accredited Assessors that transitional arrangements allowing assessors to be NatHERS accredited, while either completing training or else seeking recognition of prior learning (RPL) to attain your Certificate IV, are soon to lapse. This was planned for 31 December 2015, however to support efficient administration and processing of any accreditation status changes during the summer holiday period, these transitional arrangements have recently been extended. Under revised transitional arrangements:
Transitional arrangements are extended to 29th January 2016, for assessors who have completed all Certificate IV course requirements to the satisfaction of the training organisation they are enrolled with, by 31 December 2015 and
Transitional arrangements are extended to 15th January 2016, for all other relevant assessors (i.e. those assessors subject to transitional arrangements who have not completed all Certificate IV requirements to the satisfaction of the training organisation they are enrolled with, by 31 December 2015).
Once these transitional arrangements expire, all assessors will be required to have attained the Certificate IV qualification to be NatHERS accredited. Assessors are reminded to submit timely, complete and high quality RPL materials to support their Registered Training Organisation to process their application.
Assessor Showcase – Reach for the Stars!
We are looking for a NatHERS Accredited Assessor to profile for our next edition of the NatHERS Star. If you would like to showcase your business to the NatHERS community through this newsletter please contact us at email@example.com.
Energy websites survey
Are you interested in helping us improve how we help Australians understand and use energy? If so please complete this survey on the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s websites related to energy. The websites deliver information to consumers ranging from householders and small businesses to large corporations. We are particularly interested in your experience of the following government websites:
- Your Energy Savings (yourenergysavings.gov.au)
- Energy Efficiency Exchange (eex.gov.au)
- Your Home (yourhome.gov.au)
You will be asked two main sets of questions:
- your experience using these websites
- demographic information about you
The survey should only take about 5 minutes per website and finishes on 5 Jan 2016.
Please note that your information will remain confidential to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.