Nationwide changes to the minimum star energy efficiency rating requirements for residential homes and commercial properties in Australia, and upgrades to software that measures the thermal performance of a building, means demand for energy efficient building materials is set to soar.
As of 1 May 2009, every new building and extension to existing buildings has to meet a required level of energy efficiency according to the Building Code of Australia (BCA). With minimum energy efficiency increasing to the equivalent of a 5 star rating, the largest change will occur in Queensland, which previously had a minimum rating requirement of 3.5 stars.
COLORBOND steel with Thermatech technology reflects more of the sun’s energy on hot days, creating a cooler roof and a more comfortable home when used with standard levels of insulation. In a climate of extreme heat, such as Queensland, roofing made from COLORBOND steel with Thermatech technology can reduce a building’s annual heating and cooling energy consumption by up to 20%*. This lessens the need for summer air conditioning, which reduces energy bills and helps to reduce the greenhouse gases associated with energy production.
Thermatech solar reflectance technology is included in all 20 colours in the standard COLORBOND steel palette. It helps buildings stay cooler in summer by reflecting more of the sun’s heat, compared to other roofing materials of equivalent colour with lower solar reflectance.
The star rating summarises the energy efficiency of a building, referring to the success of its design in terms of how much energy is needed to heat and cool the building to a comfortable level all year round - the higher the star rating, the better the thermal performance of the building. A higher star ranking deems a building more thermally comfortable without the need for artificial heating and cooling.
The software used to demonstrate the star rating of a building has been upgraded to second generation versions including AccuRate, FirstRate5 and BERS Pro. These software packages consider more aspects of the building, including consideration of higher solar reflectance of roofing materials.
The introduction of the new star rating and second generation software mean that more of a building’s components are going to come under consideration in determining its thermal performance: Commercial buildings with a roof with solar absorptance of less than 0.55 may qualify for an insulation concession under the BCA deemed-to-satisfy provisions. COLORBOND steel with Thermatech technology has a solar absorptance as low as 0.31, so the new software is likely to be favourable towards a building incorporating a roof made from COLORBOND steel. This will play an important factor in helping builders and architects achieve the required star energy rating, as well as helping to lower energy bills.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announced in early May 2009, that it will require a minimum of 6 star energy efficiency rating for all residential homes and commercial properties built after May 2011. The Government has agreed to change the requirements to 6 stars in order to help move the building industry towards creating more energy efficient buildings and reduced carbon emissions.
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