Homes account for about 10% of Australia’s total carbon emissions. To meet 2020 carbon reduction goals, the federal government has steadily increased building energy efficiency requirements on new construction. In addition, from 2012 (an exact date has not yet been confirmed) energy efficiency ratings are to be disclosed on all homes rented or sold. This scheme is already in place for large commercial buildings nationwide, and for all homes in the ACT.
A government study into ACT house prices found that an energy rating improvement of one star will increase market value by three per cent on average, which can amount to tens of thousands of dollars. While many factors determine overall value, the study proved that a higher energy rating will raise the purchase price.
What are building energy ratings?
Much like the star ratings you see on appliances, new homes are required to be built to energy efficiency standards. This rating will soon also apply to existing homes when rented or sold.
In May 2011, the minimum energy standard for new buildings was increased to six stars (or equivalent, depending on your state or territory). To calculate these energy ratings, building designers use special software to ensure that the building plan is consistent with efficiency measures. As well, there are other rating methods, such as meeting the deemed-to-satisfy (DTS) provisions of the construction code.
Why is there a problem?
Apart from the initial design stage, typically there is no further assessment to ensure recommended energy saving requirements are installed. In some cases, owners have been shocked when independent assessors rated their homes as far less energy efficient than they were told originally. This could be the result of an incorrect evaluation, or building and construction issues. Either way, there are clearly discrepancies between the rating listed on paper and the actual energy efficiency for some new homes being built.
For more articles on energy efficiency, see Saving Energy.