The Crucial Role of an Effective Design Process in Achieving NatHERS 7-Star Rating for New Home Designs
Building energy-efficient homes has become a top priority in today's world, where sustainability and environmental consciousness are gaining prominence.
One such benchmark for energy efficiency is the NAtHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme) 7-Star rating which will be the minimum requirement for the new BASIX regulations from October 1, 2023. Achieving this rating requires meticulous planning, innovation, and a well-executed design process. In this blog post Craig Sutton, General Manager for Hall & Hart will explore the significance of an integrated design process in successfully attaining the NAtHERS 7-Star rating for new home designs.
Understanding NAtHERS 7-Star Rating
Before delving into the design process, let's briefly understand what the NAtHERS 7-Star rating entails. It is a comprehensive energy efficiency rating system that evaluates various aspects of a home's design and construction. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient the home is deemed to be. Achieving a 7-Star rating signifies a home that excels in minimising energy consumption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring long-term sustainability.
Early Integration of Energy Efficiency
A good design process emphasises the integration of energy efficiency principles right from the project's inception. By collaborating with architects, designers, and energy assessors at the early stages, designers can incorporate energy-efficient strategies seamlessly into the design. This will include optimising orientation, passive solar design, effective insulation, efficient lighting, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, among other considerations. Craig adds “that for customers with less-than-ideal site orientations or those wanting large modern open designs with large voids and windows the skills of the architect will be paramount in delivering a design that will meet the standard”.
Detailed Energy Modelling and Analysis
Energy modelling plays a pivotal role in the design process, allowing designers to assess the energy performance of a proposed home design. By utilising advanced software tools, energy modelling provides insights into factors such as solar heat gain, thermal performance, and overall energy usage. This information helps identify areas of improvement and fine-tune the design to meet the stringent criteria of the NatHERS 7-Star rating. Continuous Iteration and Collaboration
A successful design process is an iterative one, involving regular feedback loops and collaboration between the design team, energy assessors, and other stakeholders. This enables the identification of potential energy performance gaps and facilitates necessary adjustments to the design. Effective communication and coordination throughout the process foster a cohesive approach towards achieving the NatHERS 7-Star rating.
“This combined capability of utilising energy modelling software and a process that allows iterative design will be absolutely critical not only to achieving a home that meets the required standard but one that is in line with a client’s budget”, says Craig. He further adds “that if the assessment is only conducted after the design has been completed or worse just prior to approvals the probability of cost blowouts or significant delays will be almost certain due to the difficult nature of meeting this new standard. Clearly, all builders are going to need to review their processes and will benefit from having an energy consultant as part of the design team”
Compliance with Building Codes and Standards
In addition to the NatHERS 7-Star rating, adherence to local building codes and energy efficiency standards is essential. A well-structured design process ensures compliance with these regulations while aiming for higher efficiency benchmarks. By staying up-to-date with evolving codes and standards, designers can integrate the necessary requirements seamlessly into the design, leading to a smooth certification process.
Achieving the NatHERS 7-Star rating for new home designs requires a holistic and well-executed design process that prioritises energy efficiency at every stage. From early integration of energy efficiency principles to detailed energy modelling, material selection, and collaboration, a comprehensive approach is essential. By embracing this approach, designers can create homes that not only meet the stringent criteria of the NatHERS 7-Star rating but also contribute significantly to sustainability, energy conservation, and a greener future.
In summary, Craig adds, “A high-performing, energy-efficient home is not just a testament to good design—it is a commitment to a sustainable and resilient future for generations to come”