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Energy Rating FAQ


What is an Energy Rating?

Put simply, an Energy Rating is a calculation of the heating and cooling loads required to maintain a comfortable living environment within a given building. Factors taken into consideration include insulation, glazing, construction type, building size, orientation, and climate zone.


Why do I need an energy rating for my house?

The Building Commission of Victoria requires all new homes, additions and alterations in Victoria to have a 6 star energy rating. You will be required to submit an Energy Rating Report prepared by an Accredited Assessor in order to obtain a building permit.


At what stage is it best to get an energy rating?

Once the building plans are close to being finalised it is generally a good time to get an energy rating. If, however, the design is likely to experience difficulty to achieve a 6-Star rating, or if you have goals to achieve a high star rating, it is best to contact us earlier in the design phase to conduct a preliminary assessment. This way we can provide guidance to the designer to ensure you reach the desired star rating.


How long will it take?

We deliver a fast turnaround to ensure the building project can progress efficiently. Generally allow 2-3 days for single homes, and 2-4 days for larger commercial jobs and multi-unit developments.


When will 6 stars be introduced and does it apply to designs before this date?

6 Star ratings for new homes and extensions will become the new standard in Victoria as of 1 May 2011. Other states to have adopted the 6 Star standard include ACT, QLD (5 Star for units), SA and WA. TAS and NT currently remain with 5 Star. If the design began prior to May 2011 you may only need a 5 star rating. Talk to us for advice.


What do the stars mean?

Zero stars means the building shell does practically nothing to keep out heat in summer and retain heat in winter. 6 stars indicate a good level of thermal performance, and reduced energy bills. 10 stars is the maximum, and means no artificial cooling or heating will be required to maintain a comfortable living environment year round.


What is a BCA Section J Report?

A BCA Section J Report is required by local council prior to issuance of a construction certficate, for all Class 2-9 buildings – including commercial, industrial, public and apartment buildings. The Section J compliance report, also know as a Part J report, provides the basis for how the proposed building will satisfy the energy efficiency provisions of the BCA building regulations.


Do I need an energy rating for a renovation or extension?

Any extension or alteration requiring a building permit also requires an energy rating. In Victoria, if the renovation work represents less than 50% of the original volume of the building, then only the new section will need to be rated 6 stars; more than 50% and the entire building will require a 6 star energy rating. Please give us a call for advice if you are unsure of which catagory your house fits into.


What information do I need to provide?

A complete set of plans in PDF format or hard copy, including:
Site plan, floor plans, elevations, sections, and a window schedule (new & existing).
In the case of commercial buildings, an electrical services plan, mechanical services plan and details of air-conditioning, heating and ventilation systems will also be required.


What if my house doesn't rate 6 stars?

No problem. If your design doesn't initially reach the 6 star standard, Green Rate will suggest some straightforward changes. In most cases we can provide a variety of alternatives which will help you achieve 6 stars or higher.


Will it cost more to build to 6 Star?

Given the building has good design and orientation for its specific location, increased costs to reach 6 stars should be minimal. In any case, it makes good financial sense to seek the right advice from a reputable Accredited Assessor to ensure costs are kept to a minimum.


How do I design to get 6 stars or more?

Have a read through our efficient house design page for tips on how to achieve a higher star rating. Alternatively, give us a call for some free advice


What if the design options to reach 6 Star are technically difficult or cost prohibitive?

The building surveyor can use discretion to allow partial compliance if it is considered that reaching 6 Star would cause ‘excessive hardship’ (compared to the resulting benefit) or be technically not possible. E.g. An exemption may be granted if insulation were required within existing double brick walls in order to achieve 6 stars.


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

Only if it is a new house (renovations and extensions are exempt). You will need to choose either a rainwater tank for toilet flushing or a solar hot water system. Details must be supplied when applying for the building permit.


Who can perform an energy rating?

Only accredited assessors are able to perform an energy rating assessment. We are accredited by ABSA and trained in the use of second generation assessment tools.


What tools will be used to rate my house?

We use First Rate 5, second generation House Energy Rating (HER) software. This latest addition is the most accurate to date and allows greater flexibility in reaching your desired star rating. It utilises the Accurate platform, which is based on over twenty years of research and development by the CSIRO. Since May 2009 only second generation assessment tools have been permitted for use in conducting energy ratings within Australia.


Do items such as air conditioners, shower heads and refrigerators affect the rating?

No. A house energy rating is based only on the parts of the house least likely to be replaced – roofs, walls, windows and floors. Appliances and hot water systems generally have a much shorter working life than the house itself.