Residential building sustainability rating tools in Australia

Jacob & Jade’s House Renovation, ACT, by Cooee Architecture. Traditional land owners: The Ngunnawal people. Image: Ben King.Read time: 25 minutes

The residential building sector is a significant contributor to carbon footprint and climate change. This is primarily due to operational energy consumption derived from fossil fuels, and the impact of embodied carbon in materials that are used in construction and maintenance during a building’s life cycle. In the context of transitioning to a low or zero-carbon housing future, building rating tools will play a critical role in improving the environmental performance of new and existing housing.

This note examines key residential rating tools relevant to the Australian context, including some international tools. It aims to provide design practitioners with an understanding of these tools, including considerations to identify where best to apply them in the design process. This note updates information from earlier articles (Iyer-Raniga et al. 2007; Iyer-Raniga et al. 2014).

A case study written by Sarah Lebner, Cooee Architecture, is included in Appendix B of the note to highlight how project optimisation was applied to a house renovation.

Tools examined include: AccuRate Home, BASIX, BERS Pro, BESS, BREEAM, eTool, FirstRate5, Green Star, HERO, LEED, Living Building Challenge, NABERS and Passivhaus.

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note summary
  1. Introduction
  2. Rating tools: an overview
  3. Australian rating tools
  4. Thermal rating tools
  5. ESD rating tools
  6. International tools
  7. Discussion
  8. Conclusion