According to industry insiders development of a NABERS tool that can be applied to existing multi-residential buildings is in the works.

But while that’s welcome news for those who have been lobbying towards that goal – the City of Sydney and the strata Owners Corporation Network, for instance – there could be some stiff competition emerging in the residential ratings race.

Under an agreement between Energy Inspection (owners of the AccuRate and the BERS software platforms) and CSIRO, a new version of NatHERS for existing dwellings is also in development.

CSIRO and EI have jointly invested $3 million in the development of NatHERS V3, with an aim to be developed and deployed over the next two years.

The Carbon Emissions Measurement Tool will include both the existing NatHERS rating rules and also have an extended capacity to measure carbon abatement.

In a statement on its website, EI said the tool will allow assessors to model new building thermal performance and also predict the carbon emissions and energy bills of a dwelling once the building is occupied.

The company also said it estimated the “future expansion of residential building mandatory disclosure legislation to the states [beyond the ACT], together with proposed new mandatory carbon abatement upgrade measures to be implemented prior to sale [or lease] and leveraging existing Energy Efficiency Obligation schemes such as the VEET scheme and the NSW ESS, would create more than 1600 new on-site residential building mandatory disclosure assessor jobs, and 10,000 new energy efficiency/solar PV/battery storage installation/supplier jobs Australia-wide”.

ASBEC chair Suzanne Toumbourou said the possibility of both a NABERS tool for multi-residential properties and the development of NatHERS V3 were in line with ASBEC’s call for residential sector sustainability to be addressed.

The three key areas for priority identified by the organisation in its National Framework for Residential Ratings policy position were a need for minimum energy performance standards, benchmarks to inform the market and communications around the value of sustainability initiatives.

The development of tools for multi-resi existing dwellings is something Green Strata founder Christine Byrne said has to happen.

“Ultimately, we also need mandatory disclosure,” she said.

Ms Byrne said her organisation was aware that many strata owners and owners corporations wanted to know their energy performance, “but they have got nothing to put their hands on” in terms of tools.

She said a NABERS-type tool could help by giving people an indication of what needs to be done to improve a rating, and become another impetus for undertaking upgrade activities.

Ms Byrne also thinks the real estate agents, who currently “don’t like to mention levies” for energy and water, would have to engage with performance ratings. It made a difference in the commercial property space, she said.

While she expects a NABERS tool would apply only to common property, not individual apartments, it would still have value by giving an indication of the level of recurring energy and water costs for common property.

A rating would indicate optimal performance, and that would mean lowest cost, Ms Byrne said.

Why two tools?

But some within the energy efficiency industry wonder if yet another tool is really needed.

According to an industry insider, “If NABERS is indeed planning to develop a residential rating tool for new and existing dwellings, it’s just going to make that space even more crowded and fragmented than it already is.”

The source said that with a “formidable” NatHERS V3 in development, and the Victorian Government close to rolling outs its Residential Efficiency Scorecard, “it’s hard to see the business case for a third tool” from NABERS.

“Why can’t NABERS coordinate their efforts with EI/CSIRO and the Victorian government to come up with one decent and widely respected rating tool and scheme?” the source said.

“That is what ASBEC has been calling for with their National Framework for Residential Ratings, and that is what the industry desperately wants.”

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  1. NatHERS is for requirements while NABERS is real energy consumption. Also, NatHERS is only concerned for heating/cooling while NABERS is based on whole or base energy consumption.

    Not sure whether NatHERS current engine can evaluate high rise apartments, which are built in commercial type of HVAC systems?

  2. I’ve got to say NABERS has a much better track record than NatHERS in delivering real outcomes in the complex and adversarial processes we see in the building industry. I’m looking forward to seeing their new resi product.

    Also from what I can tell they assess completely different things (though I could be wrong), so I don’t think they will compete.

  3. It is obviously a greed based race to control, the least concern is about the main objective, but more over whom can control and make the most money! typical cracks in a capitalise based system.
    So yes! why can’t there be coordination & collaboration between states and industry bodies? That would be to costs effective and open a worldwide knowledge base to be utilised, No! can’t allow that! It’s too hard to be controlled by the minority Stack holders.
    Man’s (not gender specific) greed, is so blinding and constrictive to sensible based outcomes, or even to go further, can hold progress up for centuries, if the past is any indicator.
    For instance; this current century has already state of the art global satellite positioning system and 3D imagery capabilities, linked with the ability to collaborate thermal material performance, solar access proficiencies and carbon/energy computations.
    With all due respect to CSIRO, NABERS & Co, they really need to expand their peripheral vision, stand back, take a deep breath, ditch the pride and have a look at what is already on offer, then humbly use their intellect and our resources to collaborate and advance into the new millennium.
    Presently spiralling into the abyss, with blind disregard and full consternation on producing a standalone manually loaded data based software to increase specialisation fracturing, to find out if “stone is the best material to use for the wheel”???
    What seems too unreal is often true, sad but true! Sometimes high intellect can get caught up with itself and loose the objectives, and there is nothing we can do about it!
    p.s you don’t need a team of people on computers to know that most existing multiple residential buildings are subject to shading and or facing the wrong solar aspect, it is the fundamental process of high density living. So a lot of effort to accomplish minor outcomes can only be the outcome, prevention on the over hand is a different matter! And common sense to stop artificial intelligence housing us in vented foam boxes with no windows. Oops’ to late!

  4. Thanks Willow, I agree residential mandatory disclosure is an important step for us to take. One quick clarification the owners of AccRate and BERS are Energy Inspection not Energy Investigations. Let’s hope we see a continued effort towards this end. Cheers

  5. It is still about setting a minimum standard. W e have to do better than that if we are to have a chance in hell of addressing the problems we have created for ourselves globally