NatHERS Star - 19 December 2023

Year in review – NatHERS turns 30!

This year marks a significant milestone for the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) as we celebrate its 30th anniversary.

NatHERS has come a long way in the past three decades, helping transform the design and construction of homes across Australia to make them more energy efficient. Driven by CSIRO-science, it is now a world-leading program featuring the most reliable, and trusted, home energy measurement tools. 

Since its inception in 1993, NatHERS has become a cornerstone guiding residential energy efficiency in the National Construction Code (NCC). Currently over 90 per cent of regulatory assessments use NatHERS software.  

From 2016, when CSIRO began recording all NatHERS certificate data, the Scheme has rated over 1.3 million residential dwellings and in the last year alone more than 178 thousand certificates have been issued.

But the impact of NatHERS extends far beyond home energy ratings. It symbolises a collective commitment to a more energy efficient, net zero future. It's also a testament to the power of partnership between industry, government and communities in driving positive change. 

Working together, our major achievements this year included readying the Scheme for the new energy requirements in the National Construction Code (NCC 2022). We introduced the Whole of Home assessment and made updates to accommodate new climate files and thermal bridging requirements. Together these have been some of the most comprehensive technical updates the Scheme has seen in its 30-year history. To communicate the changes a series of comprehensive NCC 2022-focused training and industry webinars were also delivered.

Other highlights included finalisation of the disclosure framework and a successful two-day planning workshop where attendees contributed their time, energy, and ideas to ensure NatHERS will be fit for purpose into the future.

Looking ahead

A recent PropTrack Report found that 68 per cent of people view energy efficiency ratings as important when buying, renting or building a property.

As part of $36.7 million of new funding announced earlier this year, NatHERS is set to play a key role supporting future homeowners, renters and landlords, as awareness of home energy efficiency continues to rise.

The Scheme will be shaping the next generation of homes under NCC 2022, while also expanding to provide ratings for existing homes from mid-2025. The new ratings will help those who own older homes to understand their energy performance and make upgrades to improve comfort, reduce bills and support a net zero future.

In 2024 we look forward to continuing to work with our long-term partners across the jurisdictions and various industry and consumer groups. We are also excited to welcome new and emerging stakeholders from diverse sectors including finance and real estate as we continue to improve and expand NatHERS operations.

We hope you enjoy all the latest news below, as well as stories reflecting on our key achievements for 2023.

From our NatHERS family to you and your families, we wish you a safe and happy break over the Festive Season – The NatHERS Team @ DCCEEW

In this edition

  • Tools and tech update
  • NatHERS star ratings on the rise
  • Assessor training and accreditation news
  • Existing homes assessments one step closer
  • National Disclosure update
  • An exciting renewal begins at Your Home

building plan papers

Tools and tech update

This year our technical team has focused on updating NatHERS tools to support major changes to the National Construction Code (NCC 2022).

After NSW on 1 October 2023, the ACT will be the next jurisdiction to formally adopt the new NCC requirements from 15 January next year, followed by Victoria and Queensland on 1 May.

Key technical updates for thermal ratings were finalised and approved by relevant committees early in the year, and tools were accredited thereafter.

The NatHERS Whole of Home rating was also introduced to support NCC 2022. The helpful energy ‘snapshot’ rates the energy performance of major fixed appliances and accounts for onsite solar generation. For the first time, the assessment also estimates annual energy costs, including costs to the consumer, the energy network and the environment.

Incorporating the new Whole of Home rating and accrediting tools has been technically challenging, but significant progress has been made.

  • The benchmark tool AccuRate Home has been available for regulatory purposes since May. 
  • BERS Pro is fully accredited for all new NCC requirements.
  • FirstRate5 is accredited for thermal and Whole of Home ratings but cannot yet produce Whole of Home certificates.
  • Hero is accredited for thermal.  It has passed Whole of Home accuracy requirements, and their team is working on delivering an accredited tool and certificates in mid-January.

Contact AccuRate Home, FirstRate5, BERS Pro, or Hero for more information on tool updates and release dates.

Centralised systems in apartments

Work is underway to develop a method for calculating Whole of Home energy demand for apartments that use centralised services.

A proposal will be included in the NCC 2025 draft consultation early next year. Stakeholders will be able to review and provide feedback on the proposed method, as well as other changes to energy efficiency requirements.

NatHERS star ratings on the rise

As 2023 draws to a close, the CSIRO Housing Data portal shows the overall average star rating for new dwellings has increased from 6.3 to 6.4 stars with over 90 per cent of those assessments conducted by an accredited assessor.

There is a continuing upward trend towards higher star ratings for new builds, with the 7-plus bands seeing a collective increase of 3.1 per cent, a total of 36,693 homes across the nation.

Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) highlights a downturn in new home loan approvals with a 15 per cent decline between November 2022 and October 2023. This was matched with 15 per cent fewer NatHERS assessments undertaken during this period.

NatHERS remains the most popular pathway to meet the NCC energy efficiency requirements, accounting for over 90 per cent of approvals for new houses and apartment buildings. This underscores NatHERS continued reliability within industry, serving as the go-to energy efficiency measure for new residential construction.

The NatHERS website continues to grow with a total of 76,000 people visiting (up by 10 per cent from last year), with 31,000 files downloaded.  

Assessor training and accreditation news

We delivered a series of comprehensive Whole of Home assessor training sessions in 2023. Commencing in May, the training ran through until August with a total of 816 attendees completing an overview module and 784 undertaking technical training.

About 46 per cent of assessors are now certified for Whole of Home assessments, with an influx expected next year prior to ACT, Victoria and Queensland formally adopting NCC 2022.

Assessors who have completed their training should lodge their certificate with their AAO as soon as possible to avoid delays in gaining certification.

Assessor training for Whole of Home is still available on the NatHERS YouTube channel and via the new Assessor Toolkit page launched in November.

There has been a 2 per cent increase in the number of accredited assessors since 2021-22 with a total of 729 currently accredited. 

The new Assessor Handbook will be available in the first quarter of 2024. In the lead-up to its release, please use the current version of the Handbook which can be found under ‘NatHERS assessment requirements and guidance’ on the Assessor Toolkit page.  

The NatHERS Administrator has accredited Design Matters, Home Energy Raters Association and Australian Building Sustainability Association as Assessor Accrediting Organisations (to 30 November 2024).

NCC 2022 webinar series

In March, NatHERS experts joined colleagues from the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to co-host NCC 2022 focused webinars.

Over 1,900 people attended the free events to learn about the key changes and new provisions, including the move to 7-stars and Whole of Home assessment. Recordings of the webinar sessions are available on the ABCB website.

Existing homes assessments one step closer

Funding announced early in 2023 will deliver an expansion of NatHERS to existing homes assessments and ratings, a pivotal step towards improving the comfort and energy performance of millions of homes across the nation.

The Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council (ECMC) agreed a staged approach to introducing the new assessments. This focuses on delivering key elements of a national ratings scheme for existing homes as soon as possible, before scaling up and making improvements over time.

Following from workshops held with stakeholders in July, the team will be consulting on next steps and key elements throughout 2024, as the Benchmark tool, technical settings and a communications strategy are developed.  

With energy ratings for existing homes due to roll out from mid-2025, the foundations are being set for NatHERS to support future green finance products and disclosure initiatives across the country.

Two people looking over plans with laptop and hardhat

National Disclosure update

Work on the National Framework for the Disclosure of Residential Energy Efficiency Information has reached a new milestone with Energy Ministers approving the initial version last month, subject to additional approval in some jurisdictions.

The Framework outlines nationally consistent parameters to support favourable markets for the roll out of disclosure schemes across Australia.

Disclosure will support homeowners, buyers, landlords and renters to understand the energy performance of homes, helping them make informed choices about renovations and upgrades, and which homes they choose to buy or rent.

Energy Ministers will report back to the Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council (ECMC) by early 2025 on investigations, decisions, and timing to implement voluntary or mandatory disclosure schemes. This report will include findings from pilots planned for the second half of 2024.

The Framework will be publicly available in early 2024 once it is agreed by all jurisdictions.

Planning for the future of NatHERS

In July this year, over 80 technical experts, consultative group members, and industry and consumer representatives contributed their ideas to help shape the future of NatHERS.

Feedback from the successful two-day workshop is playing a key role in the development of the updated NatHERS Strategic Plan.

The Strategic Plan will outline major goals and priorities to expand the scheme. This includes initiatives to improve the accuracy and consistency of energy ratings, and to meet the needs of the Scheme’s expansion to existing homes assessments.

NatHERS teams will continue to engage with stakeholders to gather feedback and ensure the effectiveness and relevance of the measures being considered and introduced.

The revised plan is earmarked for release alongside the updated Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings Report by the end of 2024.

An exciting renewal begins at Your Home

Your Home  is set to be updated and expanded following a funding boost in the May budget. In the coming year, the project team will focus on the needs of consumers, builders and other users, exploring new ways to deliver key information to its existing audiences and encourage new readership.

The popular Design For Place page will soon include two new house designs and updates incorporating NCC 2022 energy requirements. Associated designs and technical drawings from the page have been downloaded over 110,000 times in the past 12 months.

A new case study developed by the team was recently showcased at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28. The video of the community housing project in Redfern is an excellent example of sustainable housing, with energy efficiency and good design at its core.

Subscribe to the Your Home YouTube channel to keep up to date with new case study videos and resources on designing for 7-stars and beyond, passive heating and cooling and insulation.

 

Artist representation of a design for place design

Resources for NCC 2022

Check out the many resources available to help with the transition to the new energy efficiency requirements in NCC 2022: