February Newsletter

Hi From the Sustainability WA Team

Energy efficient home plans for alterations and additions will change on May 1st 2015. If you have any projects that will require building license approval after that date, you need to start making changes to the way you document your plans and estimation of costs for building, as there is a significant difference between 5 and 6 star compliance.There will be a number of options for compliance when the 5 star requirements changes to 6 star for Additions and Aterations in May 2015. The first will be to comply with the energy efficiency requirements of the current NCC as do new houses (either 6 Star, Elemental Provisions or Verification Method).The second will be to obtain energy efficiency certification using the protocols as endorsed by the Building Commission of WA.

What is the new protocol?

When a HERS energy rating program is used the whole house must be assessed. If glazing calculators developed by the ABCB are used the whole floor must be assessed. If only part of the floor or house is being renovated this will result in an unfair burden being placed on the new part of the house which may result in renovations and extensions being unable to comply with the energy efficiency regulations.

To counter this, the protocol has been introduced. In general terms this protocol operates under a number of key principles. Firstly that all parts of the house, after renovation, will achieve the same or better level of energy efficiency. Secondly, by upgrading existing parts of the house, that would otherwise be untouched during the renovation project, this will result in better energy efficiency overall and should be encouraged. Thirdly, the NCC is still the authority and unless an item is specifically mentioned in the protocol the NCC is to be used.

What does this mean?

In general terms:

  • The new portions of a building needs to meet the latest Sustainability development goals requirements (6 stars).
  • Existing parts not being changed but are part of the affected area, need to either remain as is or to the BCA that was applicable when building license was applied for (whichever is higher).
  •  If parts of the existing are improved (e.g. add ceiling insulation to parts where there is currently none)  then a concession can be used for the new section of the building.
  • Alterations and additions that affect more than 80% of the residence have to comply with the full energy efficiency regulations as if they are a new house.
  • There is both a HERS (Star Rating) and an Elemental Provisions (Glazing calculator etc) option as there is with new houses. It seems that in most cases where the house has thermal mass the HERS option is better. In cases that are lightweight construction or elevated floors, the Elemental provisions appear to have the edge.

How to comply

Some important changes are needed in the documentation of projects that will lodged for a building license after May 1st 2015 and will be affected by the new regulations.

Most importantly the whole house, even the portions that will be unaffected by the additions and alterations, needs to be documented.

Documentation will need to include:

  • Standard set of Site and Floor plan, sections and elevations
  • Construction of all floors walls, ceilings and roofs – New and Existing
  • Insulation currently installed and proposed insulation
  • Window and door sizes of both existing windows and new
  • Year that the building license was applied for of the existing building. If there are a number of additions or extensions in the past the date of building license application and the parts that were affected by that application will need to be identified for each section.

With the above information we will then be able to assess which method will be more suitable for your project.

The protocol also details how to deal with smaller renovations etc. such as new roof cover, roof colour changes and external cladding changes.

Lighting and Ceiling Insulation Penetrations

The ceiling insulation requirements remain unchanged from the 5 star level that is used currently. If insulation penetration do not exceed 0.5% of the insulation area no further changes are required.

However, artificial lighting requirements are now introduced similar to new house requirements – 5 Watts per square metre of house, 4 watts to verandahs and 3 watts to garages.

The major difference between new houses and additions/alterations is that there is a possibility that there is existing lighting in an area that you are renovating and it can be unclear what the ceiling insulation penetrations or wattage of the existing lighting is.

To overcome that it is assumed the existing is the same as the new construction. For example, if you are adding recessed LED lights of 7 watts each and a ceiling penetration of 150mm in a kitchen that has 4 existing lights, you can assume that the existing lights are also 7 watts with a 150mm penetration.

Sustainability WA energy efficient home plans will do the calculations for you on the maximum allowed, however as always, it is up to the builder to ensure compliance on site.

It is expected that the protocol allows the flexibility to ensure a good outcome for renovations and extensions that does not overly burden the industry but at the same time will result in greater energy efficiency for new building.

However to make sure the protocol  is used effectively and the best result is achieved for your project it is very important to make sure that the person doing your assessments on additions and alterations has a good understanding of the BCA energy efficiency regulations as a whole as well as the new protocols and tools released.

Sustainability WA helped developed the protocols, so if you need energy efficiency experts that know the regulations, you need to speak to Sustainability WA.

If you have any questions about this, or any energy efficiency matters, in the meantime please let me know or email us at rate@s-wa.com.au.

Kind Regards,

Nathan Peart
Sustainability WA – Managing Director

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