How will new energy standards affect Australia’s building sector?


With changes in Australia’s National Construction Code (NCC), the building sector there needs to adapt,’s Jane Marsh says

In addition to a few other adjustments, the most considerable difference comes with the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). Since 2010, houses built in Australia have had to confer a minimum six energy rating. However, with this new legislation, this is no longer the case — the standard has changed from a six to seven. Here is what the recent seven-star rating changes and the impact it could have on the Australian building sector.

What Is Changing With the New Energy Efficiency Standards?

NatHERS is an energy efficiency scale for houses built in Australia and goes up to a ten — which means the home requires no artificial temperature control. In other words, the higher the rating, the less energy it would use. This energy-efficiency scale considers a few factors, such as the home’s location, insulation, materials, design aspects, climate and layout.

Current residential buildings in Australia account for 24% of overall electricity usage and 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions. With the implementation of this higher rating system, a decrease of 24% is projected for Australia’s home energy. In addition to cutting energy costs, these standards will decrease overall emissions and improve the protection homes offer against weather effects.

In other words, this bump up in rating will make homes more comfortable to live in, better protect them from weather conditions and make them more affordable. Another change with the improved rating is a new Whole of Home energy budget.

The Whole of Home score determines how a house stacks up to the NCC annual energy budget. The score considers the energy efficiency of appliances and on-site energy generation or storage. In other words, solar energy can offset the power devices — such as heating, cooling, hot water and lighting systems — use.

How Will These New Energy Standards Impact The Building Sector?

The new energy rating has already been made accessible, allowing the building sector to accommodate the new standard. According to the Victoria State Government, the cost of building a home should not increase much if construction workers follow smart design principles early in the building process. While the price could rise, the difference should be insignificant.

They also state many homes in Australia are already being built with a seven-star rating. This shows it is possible to build a house with cost-effective measures that comply with the rating while following smart design principles. Experts project this switch in ratings will cut energy bills for new homes by $576 a year.

A seven-star rating will make homes more energy efficient, meaning cooling and heating a building will cost significantly less. This decrease in energy costs while enabling homes to produce less emissions makes the new seven-star rating a welcome necessity. There are also rebate programs available for consumers — such as the Solar Homes Program — to help lower the initial price of solar energy.

For the building sector to reach the new rating, emphasis on the design principles and the home’s orientation is necessary. For example, houses should face a way that takes full advantage of the sun. Utilizing practices like these allows for more heat in the winter months.

Experts should explore other opportunities to make the home cooler in the summer, such as windows stopping heat from entering the house. A stronger focus must also be on improving the overall insulation of the building, such as the ceiling, under the floor and walls.

Energy-Efficient Homes Are Helping Save the Planet

For many, this improved rating comes as a welcome addition. This new rating system ensures homes are built with energy-efficient practices in mind while reducing carbon emissions. This will help Australia’s construction sector create houses that aim to reach net zero emissions.

The changes improve the comfort new homes provide, reduce the cost of electricity bills and are steps in the right direction in the ongoing battle against climate change. While it might take some time for the necessary adjustment to occur, the benefits of this new and improved rating system are well worth the effort.