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Modelling energy usage of residential buildings

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HEARNE Scientific Software has released a new software program for modelling the energy usage of residential buildings in Australia.

The program is called AccuRate and enables building designers to better meet the new energy efficiency standards for residential buildings, as set in the 2006 Building Code of Australia.

AccuRate was developed at CSIRO in consultation with the Australian Greenhouse Office and Hearne Scientific Software.

For residential building designers to meet the new building code of Australia standards, which are the strictest ever, they must use a second generation software modelling tool to verify the energy efficiency of their design.

AccuRate is currently the only second generation software modelling tool to verify the energy efficiency of residential buildings says Hearne Scientific.

Furthermore, first generation software tools are expected to be phased out by mid 2007.

The uptake of second generation software by assessors means they will be required to complete the National Qualification prior to being able to use the software.

The National Qualification is a short course in Residential Building Thermal Performance Assessment from Australia's Association of Building Sustainability Assessors.

By using AccuRate during building design, industry can create more energy efficient buildings and thus reduce the impact of Australia's built environment on its natural environment says Hearne Scientific.

According to Hearne Scientific, the combination of a new Building Code of Australia and the AccuRate modelling software will result in new residential buildings in Australia that are more energy efficient.

This means, for example, a reduction in electricity consumption by new buildings compared to previous designs.

With electricity production in Australia predominantly from coal burning, the reduced consumption will mean reduced emission of greenhouse gases in Australia.

Modelling software has been used to rate buildings in Australia since the introduction of the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).

NatHERS was a joint federal, state and territory government initiative in the early 1990s.

At the time, CSIRO developed software that could calculate annual totals of hourly heating and cooling energy requirements for residential buildings.

Star ratings were assigned on the basis of the sum of these requirements, and the star bands were set by each state or territory jurisdiction. The software program was also called NatHERS.

The AccuRate software is a greatly improved version of NatHERS, which has been used to rate residential buildings for more than 10 years, says Hearne Scientific.

The limitations of NatHERS have been addressed in AccuRate. According to Heaerne Scientific, the key improvements are improved natural ventilation modelling, a library of standard building materials as well as the ability to enter new ones, improved modelling of roof spaces, sub-floor spaces, skylights and the availability of up to 50 thermal zones within one house model.

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