Australia’s Energy Efficiency Certifications Explained
Our environment is significantly affected by every new building we construct. Truth be told, buildings consume almost half of the energy we use, and are directly or indirectly responsible for a high percentage of carbon emissions. Not only that, as we live in these constructed houses, a massive portion of available drinking water is also used up here. The question is, how much do we understand about the energy efficiency of these buildings?
In recent times we have seen a rise in awareness regarding the energy efficiency of buildings and residences. We realise the importance of making our buildings more energy efficient. Different rating and assessment systems have been created and implemented to ensure we make the most energy efficient use of our buildings. The idea is simple; achieve maximum productivity with minimal wasted energy.
Though the National House Energy Scheme, or NatHERS, is most commonly used, there are several other ranking or assessment systems which are followed in Australia. We’ll introduce a few of them here.
NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System)
NABERS is another rating system which works to measure the environmental performance of commercial and residential Australian buildings. It rates your residence on a scale of 1 to 6 stars. The more the stars, the more energy efficient your house is. A 6-star rating means your home shows state of the art energy performance. 1 star means your building needs a whole lot of improvement. The rating is generated by using measured and verified performance information such as utility bills.
It measures four key factors and rates them:
- Energy efficiency
- Water usage
- Waste management
- Indoor environment quality
So the bottom line is, if you happen to have, own or manage a building in Australia, a NABERS rating can indicate how well you are doing when comparing your environmental impact to that of similar buildings.
On behalf of Commonwealth, state and territory governments, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage manages NABERS nationally.
NatHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme)
NatHERS is a star rating system which measures your home’s energy efficiency on a scale of 1 to 10. Based on design, it rates how energy efficient a particular house is. It is run by the Department of the Environment and Energy on behalf of the states and territories of Australia. NatHERS provides information about the thermal performance of a particular construction. This star rating is based on three pieces of information:
- The design of the home
- Construction materials used
- The climate of the surrounding area
NatHERS star ratings are conducted by professionals using software built specifically for this purpose. Homeowners, builders, certifiers and in some cases local, state or national governments can utilise this efficiency rating. In fact, in some areas, ensuring a minimum 6-star energy rating is mandatory. You can check this article if you’re keen to know why it is crucial to achieving a 6-star energy rating in Australia.
Green Star Rating System
The Green Building Council of Australia provides this Green Star Certification. It can rate new or already existing building as well as communities. While certifying your asset, it deals with several aspects of the building. Such as
- Energy and water efficiency
- Air quality
- Land use
- Materials of the design
- Interior etc.
Sustainable or “green” building concepts are a hot topic today. The focus is on using resources more efficiently and wasting as little energy as possible. The increased popularity of green building design and construction has given rise to a variety of possibilities. Getting a green star certification can obviously boost your performance.
EECS (Energy Efficiency Certification Scheme)
The Energy Efficiency Certification Scheme, or EECS, is a little different from the rating systems mentioned above. EECS certifies professionals with the ability to carry out an assessment process. These professionals can work with clients and find solutions to their energy efficiency problems.
Australia’s top body for energy efficiency, the Energy Efficiency Council, administrates this scheme. To get a professional certificate issued by the scheme one needs to undergo a challenging assessment process. This is where they need to showcase their knowledge, experience and skill. An independent assessment panel then decides whether to give them accreditation. So, if you’re a building owner or manager and thinking about an energy update, contacting an EECS certified professional would be a great idea.
These are the top four rating and assessment systems being used in Australia to determine how energy efficient a home, school or other building is. Having a building's energy rating assessment from any one of these will give you insight about the condition of your residence.