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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 19 August 2010) . . Page.. 3630 ..

improvements is enhanced by having access to accurate information and assessments of our building stock.

There has indeed been much public discussion recently about new standards for buildings, energy ratings and affordable improvements to homes. Discrepancies in the way energy efficiency is rated can lead to unnecessary costs for consumers and issues for the design and construction of new homes.

Done well, the energy efficiency assessment process can minimise not only the energy required to heat and cool a home to a comfortable level, but also the cost to meet the standards in place for new homes and alterations to existing homes. My hope is that, instead of being considered after a home is designed, energy efficiency and other environmental features will be a primary focus throughout the design process.

There is evidence that the recent move to the six-star rating for new homes has helped to start this change in thinking. It will lead to greater collaboration between building designers, builders and energy assessors to produce good designs that meet client and regulatory needs. And once design work is done and plans are finalised to the required standard, the proposed amendments to the Building Act will make an energy efficiency certificate a document that must form part of the building approval application. This means that the building must be built to the rating and that no change can be made to the rating after approval where those changes would reduce a home’s energy rating.

Energy assessors have an important role to play in the improvement of our buildings. Outside incentive programs, there are two main regulatory triggers for an assessment of energy efficiency—when building work is done and when premises are sold. These are critical times when owners and purchasers most need reliable information to make effective choices to either improve their home or decide if a home is suitable for them. That is why it is vital that energy assessments are of a consistently high quality.

While some errors or changes to plans may have no impact on the overall rating, there are many things that can significantly affect a home’s energy rating. The effects of such changes are not always self-evident when the person is designing, decorating or deciding on landscaping. The difference in the rating caused by an incorrect assessment of an element may be only half a star, but this can be the difference between meeting the building standards and being non-compliant. The differences in energy use between star ratings decreases as the star ratings get higher; therefore smaller errors have a greater effect on the accuracy of the rating.

The field of energy assessment is relatively new, and the software and methods of assessment are continually evolving. The majority of building energy assessors are regulated in some form at present. Building energy efficiency assessors in the ACT are not currently required to hold a licence in order to undertake building assessments. Instead, assessors preparing energy efficiency rating statements under the civil law act must be registered with the ACT Planning and Land Authority. There are currently over 200 registered energy assessors.

Assessors must comply with guidelines for preparing energy ratings and with the code of practice. The code of practice contains requirements for ongoing registration,

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