6 Star Energy Rating

6 Star Energy Rating – what does this mean for my project?

From 1 May 2011, all new homes, renovations and additions in Victoria will be required to meet a minimum 6 star energy rating, with inclusion of either a solar hot water system or a rainwater tank.

What is an energy rating?

An energy rating for your home is a calculation of the thermal performance of the dwelling, or simply put, the heating and cooling requirements to maintain a comfortable temperature.  The lower the rating, the more reliant on mechanical heating and cooling devices the dwelling’s occupants will be to establish and maintain a comfortable temperature.  A lower rating will also mean higher energy bills.

How is it calculated?

An energy rating can only be established by an accredited energy rater.  To perform their assessment they will require the site plans, floor plans, elevations, window schedule and the construction materials for the dwelling (eg the type of cladding, what rating of insulation, roof material to be used, etc).

The energy rater will feed this information into the energy rating program to calculate the star performance of the dwelling.

If the dwelling achieves less than 6 stars, the energy rater will suggest changes to ensure a 6 star rating is achieved.  This could be double glazed windows or insulation of a higher rating.

What does this mean for my project?

As of 1 May, a building surveyor will need to ensure that a dwelling (or in certain circumstances the addition only) achieves a minimum 6 star energy rating to grant a building permit.

It is important that your designer is thinking of the energy rating at the beginning of the design – orientation, size and placement of windows and shading are just a few of the elements that need to be considered.

What if my dwelling doesn’t reach 6 stars?

If the energy rating comes back short of 6 stars, changes will be required.  This has the potential to increase the cost to build, especially if the energy rating hasn’t been considered at the beginning of the design.  Correct orientation and building materials could mean the insulation required for the home isn’t as highly rated as it may be required if the building achieves a lower energy rating.

I’m not building a new home, so what does this mean for my renovation or extension?

If you are making alterations to 50% or more of the volume of the existing dwelling, then the whole dwelling will need to achieve a 6 star energy rating.  If the altered area is less than 50% of the volume of the existing dwelling, then only that part of the dwelling is required to achieve a 6 star energy rating.  The building surveyor has some discretion in certain circumstances.  For further information, contact the Building Commission.

Conclusion

From 1 May 2011, all new homes, renovations and additions in Victoria will be required to meet a minimum 6 star energy rating, with inclusion of either a solar hot water system or a rainwater tank.

Speak with your building designer to ensure that they are thinking a minimum of 6 star energy rating early in the design process.  In the end, this will save you money.