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Green Smart Magazine : GreenSmart 2010
New South Wales will continue to apply BASIX (Building Sustainability Index) as the rating tool for all new houses and apartments. It is expected that the minimum requirements under BASIX will change slightly in 2011. No changes will happen this year in Western Australia. Lastly, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have moved to five stars this year, after delaying the increase in the past few years. Every new home in Australia requires a building approval and in some states you may also require planning approval. The new requirements generally apply only to a house that has not obtained approval yet. So houses under construction or recently completed only need to comply with the previous rules in the state in which you are building. How to get an energy rating There are two main ways to check the energy rating of your new house, whether using the BCA or BASIX. The first option is to use a computer simulation program that quantifies how much energy will be used to heat and cool the home throughout the year. This calculation is then translated into an energy rating between 0 and 10 stars under the BCA, or between 0 and 100 in BASIX. The second option is to comply with a set list of minimum requirements for insulation, floor, wall and ceiling construction, window size and type and other matters. This is generally known as 'deemed to satisfy' under the BCA or 'do it yourself ' under BASIX. Depending on how complex the house design is and the climate zone you are in, you may need to use a computer simulation program. Your builder or building designer will be able to advise you on which option you will need. A computer energy rating needs to be completed by a trained energy assessor. In most states, energy assessors are registered by the state government, but not in every state. To find your nearest energy assessor, contact your local council. Changes to hot water rules The changes to BCA this year also include new requirements for hot water systems. In most states this will not be a significant change as there were state laws that already required a minimum five-star or equivalent hot water ser vice. However, in some states, such as the ACT, this is a new requirement. Your builder or plumber can advise you on the best hot water option for your location. Five-star hot water systems include solar gas-boosted, solar electric-boosted, gas instant and gas storage systems and the electric heat pump. In 2010 the federal government will also proceed to phase out electric hot water systems as replacements in existing homes. New lighting rules For the first time nationally, the BCA now has new rules for lighting in homes. These only apply in those states moving to six stars. The changes mean there is now a 'maximum' of five watts of lighting per square metre The Australian government has launched a new website www.livinggreener.gov.au to help everyone find out more about living greener. The website brings together information from a number of other government agencies and environment programs in one place, to make it easier to find what you need. The site includes a wealth of information on: • rebates and incentives available in every state and territory for both renters and homeowners • how to save energy in your home -- energy-efficient appliances, heating and cooling solutions, ceiling insulation • how to save water in your home -- greywater, rainwater, water smart gardens • how to reduce your waste -- building materials, recycling, compost • how to travel smarter -- effective driving, public and alternate modes of transport. There is a free home sustainability assessment available to help identify where you can make the biggest savings on money, water and energy in your home. Visit the website www.livinggreener.gov.au or call 1800 106 059 for further details. living greener greensmart 2010 73 FIVE-STAR HOT WATER SYSTEMS INCLUDE SOLAR GAS- BOOSTED, SOLAR ELECTRIC- BOOSTED, GAS INSTANT AND GAS STORAGE SYSTEMS AND THE ELECTRIC HEAT PUMP > Photo courtesy Third Ecology