Will Tasmania finally get with the Energy Efficiency times?

It’s now getting close (we hope), since the ‘sidestep’ when the Tasmanian Government back in 2011 put off the introduction of the mandatory 6 star energy efficiency guidelines to come in-line with the rest of Australia and told Building Designers, Architects and Energy Raters that it wouldn’t happen until May 2013.

ABSA wrote about the governments decision back in 2011 and expressed their disappointment as we all did at the time.

Well it’s now only a couple of months away, and after a few of the ‘experiments’ around xmas with accredited raters only to do energy ratings we hope this is a big step forward for Tasmania’s New Housing Stock as the rules get tighter and houses are using less energy to heat and cool their houses.

This taken from the Workplace standards website confirms it’s still going ahead.

Tasmania has required mandatory energy efficiency measures for new housing for a decade (since 1 January 2003).

Since 2009 a “5 Star” requirement under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) has applied under the Building Code of Australia (BCA).  New Tasmanian buildings will require a higher “6-Star” standard in 2013.

When do the new “6-Star” requirements commence?

From 1 May 2013 all new homes and extensions built in Tasmania will need to achieve a 6-Star level of energy efficiency when the National Construction Code 2013 comes into force.  The existing variation to the National Construction Code which applies the standard of the 2009 edition will then be removed.

What types of buildings do the “6-Star” requirements apply to?

The 6-Star requirements also apply to new work on an existing residential building such as additions, extensions and alterations.

What are the main changes introduced by the “6-Star” requirements?

Achieving the “6 Star” level

“6 Star” refers to the required level of thermal performance for the building.  That level can be achieved by either:

How is compliance with “6-Star” verified?

The Building Act 2000 requires a permit for new building work to ensure it will comply with the National Construction Code (NCC).  The design of new homes and extensions is assessed against the NCC by a building surveyor for the issue of a Certificate of Likely Compliance.   This assessment includes checking for compliance with the 6-Star energy efficiency requirements.

Who can perform an energy assessment for “6-Star”?

An energy assessment of new homes and extensions can be completed by the responsible designer (an accredited architect or an accredited building designer) if they are competent.  That is part of their work as an accredited designer.

An expert house energy assessor, who is not the responsible designer, can also undertake energy rating assessments using the approved software.  They must provide a verification report, supporting documentation and complete a Form 55 “Certificate of Specialist or Other Person” to provide to the building surveyor.  However the Form 55 can only be accepted by a building surveyor if that energy assessor is accredited by either:

  1. ABSA (the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors); or
  2. BDAV (the Building Designers Association of Victoria).

There is no requirement that an independent energy assessor must also be accredited under the Building Act 2000 as a building practitioner in Tasmania.

Approved Assessment Software

Only the Second-Generation NatHERS Thermal Assessment Software which complies with the NatHERS acreditation protocol dated June 2012 may be used to determine compliance with the NCC.  They are:

AccuRate is Australia’s national benchmark software tool and was designed by the CSIRO.  BERS Professional and FirstRate 5 provide building professionals with alternative user interfaces.  All software tools use the same calculation engine (Chenath Engine).

Software and training is available from commercial providers.

Can designs prepared before 1 May 2013 still be accepted?

From 1 May 2013 all new residential designs must be to the 6-Star requirements.  If substantial progress had been made on a design before this date, the previous (lower) standard of 5-Star may still be accepted under the transitional provision provided in section 55(4)(b) of theBuilding Act 2000.  However the use of this transitional provision is not recommended because there has been a long lead up to introducing 6-Star.  The decision to change has been known by industry since November 2011 and the extra time was to allow building practitioners to become familiar with the altered requirements.

Designing and constructing a “6-Star” energy efficient house

Designing and constructing a new home or extension to be 6-Star energy efficient will cost much less than attempting to refit an existing building.  That is why the 6-Star requirement is mandatory for new work at the design or construction stage.

Homes incorporating sound environmental design principles can minimise heating and cooling bills and have a lasting positive impact on the environment by reducing greenhouses gases.  Some of these principles include:

Consider the climate zone location

The 6-Star energy efficiency requirements depend on the climate zone in which a house is located. Climate zones are determined on climatic data and there are two Tasmanian zones:

Consider the orientation of the house on the block

Good solar orientation of a house has the potential to achieve substantial energy savings when combined with an efficient design.  Houses built with a north facing orientation for the main living areas are more likely to easily achieve a 6-Star rating.

Houses with large areas of glazing facing south, west or east may still achieve 6-Star but are then likely to incur higher construction costs and on-going heating costs for the occupants.

Consider the envelope of the house

The design and construction of the house’s envelope – roof, external walls and floors – will have an effect on the thermal comfort of a house. To achieve a 6-Star rating, the following is required:

Websites

Find an independent energy assessor

 

Lets hope for everyone there are no more delays, and when May comes around we can all start to bring a higher quality finish and energy efficiency to all the houses built in Tasmania.

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