Issue 3 - December 2016
Welcome to the December 2016 NatHERS Star. The NatHERS Administrator has been hard at work since the last newsletter and we have a bumper issue to close out 2016.
Following the 2016 Federal Election, the decision was made to align the Energy and Environment portfolios to provide a more holistic approach to climate change and energy efficiency policy. In line with this, the NatHERS Administrator was moved out of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and into our new home in the Department of the Environment and Energy.
Our new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, so please update your contact lists and contact us here with any future correspondence.
In the last few months we have released some new documents and a video, including:
- NatHERS Service Charter
- A list of Key Performance Indicators for NatHERS
- NatHERS Annual Report 2015-16
- Updated NatHERS Strategic Plan for 2015-18
- EEAT-NatHERS Response to the Governance and Operational Review of NatHERS.
- A video about the NatHERS Universal Certificate
- A scoping study for the National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP) Measure 31.2: Advance the National Construction Code (NCC)
- NatHERS Certifier Factsheet
You can read about the new activities the NatHERS Administrator has planned for the early part of next year in the ‘On the horizon' article in this issue.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our stakeholders that have provided input into the various consultation processes that have taken place this year. The insight you have provided has been highly valuable!
If you have any thoughts about this newsletter, or suggestions about the kind of articles you would like to see included in this newsletter, please contact us at email@example.com.
Updated NatHERS Strategic Plan
There is now an update to the NatHERS Strategic Plan 2015-2018 available on the NatHERS website. This update does not seek to re-evaluate the Strategic Plan that was released in August 2015, but rather acknowledge developments since the original Strategic Plan was released in 2015. A new Strategic Plan will be developed for 2018.
NatHERS Governance Review Update
In 2016 the NatHERS Administrator engaged ACIL Allen Consulting to undertake an independent governance and operational review of NatHERS.
The 2016 NatHERS Governance and Operational Review was released in August 2016 along with the NatHERS Steering Committee response to the review, which is now available on the NatHERS website. This response lays out what the NatHERS Administrator will be doing to address the issues raised in the review.
The NatHERS Administrator has since been implementing the actions outlined in the response, including improving stakeholder engagement, developing new communications materials and revising other administrative practices.
Invitation to Comment on the Software Accreditation Protocol Discussion Paper
A discussion paper has been developed to review opportunities to improve clarity and processes in the NatHERS Software Accreditation Protocol. The release of the discussion paper is one of several responses by the NatHERS Steering Committee to the recommendations of the 2016 NatHERS Governance and Operational Review.
This discussion paper is now available on the NatHERS website. Stakeholders are invited to respond to the discussion paper and to provide feedback on ways the Protocol could be improved.
Feedback should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org before 9 January 2017. Please ensure any feedback includes your name and/or business name, contact details and how you are involved with NatHERS and/or the NatHERS Software Accreditation Protocol.
BERS Pro Accreditation Update
Having met all the outstanding requirements of software accreditation, BERS Pro is on track for full accreditation before the end of March 2017. The software remains under interim accreditation until all relevant approval processes for software updates are completed. The NatHERS Administrator is expecting the new fully accredited version of the software will be released between January and March 2017. Energy Inspection, as owners of BERS Pro, will notify all existing users of the date of the new release when it is finalised.
Quarterly stakeholder meetings
A recent initiative of the NatHERS Administrator has been to conduct quarterly stakeholder meetings with Assessor Accrediting Organisations (AAOs) and Software Providers. The first meetings were held in July and were well received by all involved. The second set of meetings have proven a great opportunity for all involved to be kept up-to-date and to progress NatHERS activities. At these meetings participants provide updates on projects and discuss any existing or emerging issues. These meetings will continue to be held quarterly with the next round of meetings expected to be held in March 2017.
NatHERS Technical Advisory Committee Update
To keep everyone better informed about the discussions of the NatHERS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) we will be providing updates in this, and future, editions of the NatHERS Star.
Since the last NatHERS Star Newsletter, the committee has discussed the following items:
- Processes for including new materials in NatHERS software
- Consideration of a new material submission for the NatHERS software
- Proposed changes to Chenath planned for the 2019 National Construction Code
- Aligning the window values to be reported to a single decimal point
- Progress on the default and custom windows workshop action items
- Modelling edge batt insulation in the software
- Activities addressing condensation issues in residential buildings
- Optimising foils in the software
The next TAC meeting will be in February 2017.
Over the past few years the NatHERS Administrator has undertaken a trademarking process to protect the NatHERS logo, name and acronym from misuse. The NatHERS logo was registered as a trade mark with IP Australia in 2012 and the more detailed logo used on the Universal Certificate in 2015. ‘Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme’ and ‘NatHERS’ have both been trademarked as of June 2016. For guidance on how the NatHERS logo can be used visit the NatHERS website.
Get to know: Chenath
Did you know the Chenath Engine has been around in different forms since the 1950s? Over the years a large number of very clever people have worked on improving it and it has evolved along the way. It has also had a number of different names and fed into different programs.
Behind the front end software (FirstRate5, BERS Pro, and AccuRate) and based on agreed rules, Chenath works hard to model the thermal comfort of a home. It uses the historical weather data for 69 different climate zones, along with the building orientation, construction types and materials, windows/doors, and eaves/shading/curtains. It also assumes windows are opened and closed at times when temperatures inside or outside are appropriate. Chenath uses all of these factors to calculate the amount of energy required to keep a home at a comfortable temperature.
There are a number of complicated calculations that Chenath uses to work out when a change in temperature is needed in different rooms of the house (otherwise known as a zone type), for different climate zones. The different zone types help to predict the behaviour of residents in that room type. For this reason it is important that the zoning of a room reflects how the room will be used. If you would like to know more about how to zone a house, please have a look at the zoning examples on the NatHERS website.
Chenath is an intelligent and complicated piece of software and getting to know the way it works can be very helpful for assessors when calculating ratings. To help people better understand Chenath, the CSIRO have recently released a repository of documents outlining much of the detail of how Chenath calculates ratings. While targeted at a technical audience, the repository provides a lot of information about the underlying assumptions that Chenath makes and explains concepts like the Area Adjustment Factor.
For more information on how the software works see:
On the Horizon
2016 has been a busy year for the NatHERS Administrator and 2017 looks set to follow suit. Here are just a few key activities coming up:
Communications and engagement
For the first half of 2017 we are planning a number of communications activities, including some new fact sheets, an updated assessor guidance document, another exciting instalment of the NatHERS Star and the 2017 Stakeholder Update. The Stakeholder Update will be a one day face-to-face forum and is scheduled for May, with more information available closer to the date. A TAC meeting is scheduled for February and quarterly stakeholder meetings will take place in March. Refer to the NatHERS Service Charter, which details all the stakeholder engagement activities we have planned.
There are a range of scheme improvement activities that will take place early next year, including reviews of both the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment and the NatHERS Universal Certificate, progressing activities from the default and custom windows workshop and streamlining data management and reporting for the Scheme.
The next upgrade to Chenath is scheduled for 2019, which will align with the next update to the National Construction Code. Although 2019 seems like it is a long way away, work has already begun on readying for updates. Expected updates include new 2015 climate files, and a number of improvements to the way Chenath works.
NEPP Measure 5 – Residential building energy ratings and disclosure
In the National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP) Measure 5, the COAG Energy Council committed to consider by the end of 2016 options for implementing a national approach to residential building energy ratings and disclosure. A copy of the NEPP can be found on the Department of the Environment and Energy website.
During 2016 a range of activities were undertaken by various jurisidictions to progress this work, including an International Review of Residential Building Energy Efficiency Rating Schemes report. Part 1 of this review compares residential building energy efficiency rating schemes across a range of countries and Part 2 distils the most successful elements of the different schemes into underlying best practice principles for Australia.
The Energy Council agreed on Wednesday 14 December 2016 to a national collaborative approach to residential building energy ratings and disclosure. Principles have been established to guide jurisdictions working together as schemes are developed to allow home owners, buyers and tenants to understand, compare, value and act on the energy performance and comfort level of residential buildings. Download the Principles
NEPP Measure 31.2 - Advancing the NCC
The NatHERS Administrator is engaging with the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) initiative to progress National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 changes to energy efficiency provisions. This includes potentially transferring the existing NatHERS 6-star provisions from the current deemed-to-satisfy provisions to a verification method, and investigating the splitting of the overall energy use requirement into maximum heating and cooling loads. These changes aim to facilitate greater compliance with current NCC requirements, in preparation for reviewing stringency (possibly in NCC 2022).
Under NEPP Measure 31.2, COAG Energy Council officials are also considering opportunities to increase minimum requirements in NCC 2019 and beyond, noting the potential costs and benefits of any change will need to be assessed. An initial scoping study can be found on the NatHERS website.
NEPP Measure 32 – Improving compliance with the NCC
Phases one and two of the National Energy Efficient Buildings Project (NEEBP) found it is broadly reported by industry representatives across all sectors, that there is an issue with building compliance of energy efficiency regulation. However quantifiable evidence is limited.
In response, NEEBP Phase 3 (now NEPP Measure 32) is seeking to improve training and accountability within the building industry. Work has commenced to develop energy efficiency compliance specific training modules, with training and building industry workshops being undertaken in November 2016. Work is also commencing on potentially supporting the development of tool/s that better assist industry to achieve compliance.
BDAV Design Contest
The Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) has revamped its 10-Star Sustainable Design Challenge. The BDAV 10-Star Sustainable Design Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to allow entrants to demonstrate their design skills and industry knowledge to a wider audience. The challenge is to prepare a residential design across any climate zone in Australia in either single and/or multi-residential category(s) and achieve a NatHERS 10 Star energy rating. Entry is open to BDAV assessors only, and any of the currently accredited NatHERS software (AccuRate, BERS Pro, FirstRate5) may be used to confirm performance.
The winners in both categories will be announced at the BDAV's CPD seminar in February 2017, to be held in conjunction with the Sustainable Living Festival (details to be confirmed closer to that date).
For more information visit the BDAV website.
New energy-saving guide for Northern Australia
Recently the team behind the Your Energy Savings website released the Energy-saving guide for Northern Australia. This guide aims to help you maintain a comfortable and liveable home year round across the three northern Australian climate zones. It contains energy-saving ideas you can adapt to your individual needs and housing situation, while also reducing your energy bills.
CRC LCL – Next Generation Rating Tools
The CRC for Low Carbon Living, in association with project partners CSIRO, Energy Inspection, and the University of South Australia, launched the RP1024 NextGen Rating Tools project in Adelaide on 29 September 2016. The project, RP1024 NextGen House Energy Design Tools, will be undertaken over the next two years and will help provide one of the fundamental building blocks for low carbon living. Read more about this on the Low Carbon Living website.