What You Need to Know About Energy Rating Reports

Whether you’re a first-time home builder or looking to begin a renovation project, it’s worth getting familiar with the latest information on Energy Rating Reports. Below we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about 6 Star Energy Rating reports in relation to residential buildings.

If you have a question that isn’t listed here, get in touch with us today and we’ll provide you with the most up-to-date information relevant to your project.

What is an Energy Rating Report?

An Energy Rating Report, sometimes referred to as an Energy Efficiency Assessment, is a professional evaluation of the heating and cooling loads required to maintain a comfortable living environment within a building. Accredited assessors like Urban Energy Ratings are able to take your building plans and construction details to produce a reliable report that can be used in building permit applications to meet legislative requirements.

Why do I need an Energy Rating Report?

The National Construction Code specifies that all new residential Class 1a dwellings in Australia must achieve at least a 6 star energy rating to be compliant with legislation. In addition to new home builds, this requirement known as the ‘6 Star Standard’ also applies to all home renovations, alterations and additions. Therefore, if you are planning a new home build or renovation in Victoria, your project will need a 6 star energy rating in order to proceed.

Who can perform an Energy Rating Assessment?

Only accredited assessors are able to perform an Energy Rating Assessment. At Urban Energy Ratings we are accredited in Thermal Performance Assessment and trained in the use of accredited software, First Rate 5. Each state in Australia has slightly different accreditation requirements, so contact us and we’ll let you know if we can help or we’ll refer you to another reliable assessment provider.

At what stage should I get an Energy Rating Report completed?

When your building plans are close to being finalised it is recommended that you work with an accredited Energy Rating assessor to complete a report. However, if you are concerned that the design will have difficulty achieving a 6 star energy rating, or if you have goals to achieve a higher star rating, contact Urban Energy Ratings earlier in the design phase to conduct a preliminary assessment.

How long will it take to finalise an Energy Rating Report?

At Urban Energy Ratings we pride ourselves on our ability to provide reliable Energy Rating Reports with a fast turnaround time. For single homes please allow 2-3 days for assessment, and 2-4 days for larger residential builds and multi-unit developments.

What do the ‘stars’ in Energy Rating Reports mean?

The star rating system (known as a star band) in Energy Rating Reports relates to the amount of energy predicted to be used in order to maintain a thermally comfortable environment. The star rating goes from 1-10, with buildings given a higher star rating considered to be more energy efficient and cheaper to run than homes with a lower star rating.

A 0-star rating means the building shell does practically nothing to reduce the discomfort of hot or cold weather. A 6-star rating, the minimum standard in most Australian states and territories, indicates a good thermal performance and a likelihood of reduced energy bills. A 10-star rated home means that no artificial cooling or heating is required to keep inhabitants comfortable year-round.

What affects the star rating of my project?

There are many factors that play a role in the final star rating of a new home or renovation project. Some of these factors include:

  • Wall insulation
  • Ceiling insulation
  • Floor insulation
  • Roof type
  • Building orientation
  • Proximity to neighbours
  • Floor type
  • Wall construction
  • Climate zone
  • Windows (number, type, glazing)
  • Downlights (type and number)

What information do I need to provide for an Energy Rating Report?

In order for us to produce a reliable Energy Rating Report in an efficient manner we’ll need you to provide us with a complete set of building plans in a PDF format.

These plans should include:

  • Site plan
  • Floor plans
  • Elevations
  • Sections
  • Window schedule
  • Floor covering schedule
  • Lighting schedule

What if my new building doesn’t meet the 6 star rating requirement?

If after completing your Energy Rating Report we find that your proposed plans do not meet the 6 star rating requirement, we’ll provide tailored recommendations to help you improve the design in order to lift your rating and achieve 6 stars or more.

Does it cost more to build a 6 Star rated home?

If your home already has a good base design and orientation for the chosen location, additional costs to achieve a 6 star rating should be minimal. If you are concerned about this we’d recommend involving an accredited assessor like us early on in your design to ensure that additional costs are kept to a minimum.

How do I design my home to get a 6 star rating or more?

There are a variety of factors at play in an Energy Rating Report. From orientation and layout to windows, insulation, shading and sealing, there are many choices that can make a big difference in how energy efficient your home design is. Get in contact with us at Urban Energy Ratings to discuss your home energy efficiency goals.

Are energy ratings standard across Australia?

While there are variances in the energy rating requirements across different Australian states, territories and local governments, the software used to assess thermal performance of a building is the same.

In addition to meeting the Performance Provisions with a NatHERS energy rating or through using Deemed-To-Satisfy, those looking to build a new home in Victoria also need to meet Victorian Building Authority’s (VBA) sustainability measures. This calls for the inclusion of either a solar hot water system or a rainwater tank in the building design. When collaborating with you on your project we’ll inform you of the requirements to satisfy these measurements.

When building a new home in New South Wales you’ll need to satisfy BASIX requirements.

Why is it more difficult to achieve a 6 star energy rating in a Melbourne climate zone?

As you’ve probably heard time and time again, Melbourne is a great place to be if you want to experience four seasons in one day! Melbourne has a distinct climate zone whereby outside of the high ‘peaks’ in summer, it tends to be much cooler outside the home compared to the inside. As the star energy rating measures energy efficiency, it’s important that Melbourne residents design their homes for all conditions in order to maintain a comfortable temperature inside regardless of outside temperatures.

Do I need to install a solar hot water system or rainwater tank?

Yes, this is a separate regulation from the energy rating and does not factor in the assessment at all, but you will need to provide your Registered Building Surveyor with details of either a rainwater tank or solar hot water system when applying for your building permit. See the Plumbing Industry Commission website for further information.

What tools are used to establish Energy Ratings?

At Urban Energy Ratings we utilise an accredited software, First Rate 5. This tool allows us to create highly accurate energy rating reports and is known as a second generation House Energy Rating (HER) software. Since May 2009 only second generation assessment tools have been permitted for use in conducting energy rating reports within Australia.

What is a BCA Section J Report?

A BCA Section J Report is required by local councils prior to issuing construction certificates for all Class 2-9 buildings. This includes commercial, industrial, public and apartment buildings. The Section J compliance report, otherwise known as a Part J report, indicates how the proposed building will satisfy the energy efficiency requirements of the BCA building regulations.