Owner-DESIGNING FOR CLIMATE WITH PAAL

5 May 2023 - Owner-DESIGNING FOR CLIMATE WITH PAAL

There’s much to consider when you embark on your home building journey. You need to decide where and how you want to live. What will your budget look like? How will your home suit your lifestyle and long-term needs? And that’s just for starters.

Another increasingly significant factor, and one that influences all of the above, is the energy efficiency of your potential home. In Australia, we must comply with standards set out by the National Construction Code (NCC), and this year a significant increase in the energy rating will be required, possibly affecting how you build and the materials you use.

WHAT WILL THIS CHANGE MEAN?

diagram showing side view of house with heat loss in winter and gain in summer

From 1st October 2023, a 7-star energy rating will be introduced, insisting homes be created with greater energy efficiency. And while this will require extra thought and preparation, it’s not difficult to achieve – and in the long term, will help bring down living costs and provide a more comfortable home to live in.

Basically, it comes down to minimising energy usage. The better a house is at controlling its internal temperature, the less reliant it is on external energy. A house in a cold climate with access to sun’s rays will require less energy for heating. Likewise in a hot climate, a house with adequate shading will stay cool more naturally. Meanwhile in every climate, good insulation in walls, ceilings and windows helps maintain the desired internal temperature.

The first step, however, is to identify the climate in which you plan to build. This will ensure you choose an effective design and appropriate materials to suit your location.

WHAT ARE THE CLIMATE ZONES?

The NCC has defined eight climate zones in Australia, from the extreme heat of the northern territory to the colder Alpine areas. The way you build will depend on the zone in which you are located. For example, how you build in the hotter climates of Zones 1, 2, and 3, which include Queensland and parts of NSW, will differ to how you build in the cold climates of Zones 7 and 8, which encompass parts of Victoria.

map of Australia with climate zones


Below is a general list of building features required for a 7-star rating, specific to hot, cold and mild climate zones.

BUILDING REQUIREMENTS FOR HOT CLIMATES:

  • Window shading, including verandahs and/or wide eaves
  • With non-shaded elevations, eaves may need to be widened and window sill heights raised
  • Good cross ventilation and window openings
  • External wall and ceiling insulation, including floor insulation if the house is elevated
  • Ceiling fans
  • Light coloured roofs
  • House orientation avoiding excessive glazing on the western elevation

BUILDING REQUIREMENTS FOR COLD CLIMATES:

diagram of home eaves with sun location in winter and summer
  • No verandahs or excessive window shading on north facing elevation of house
  • A north-side entry may need an entrance portico, an alfresco or recessed entry area under main roof
  • Waffle pod floor slabs. (Raft slabs or elevated floors will be difficult to pass requirements)
  • Dark coloured roofs
  • Isolation of living zones throughout the house as opposed to an open plan layout, with doors closing off internal rooms and/or zoned areas
  • Insulation of some internal walls, especially between the wet areas of the house and adjoining rooms
  • Increasing of bulk ceiling insulation
  • Upgrading of window glazing to low-e or double glazed (timber framed windows will rate better than aluminium)
  • A north-south house orientation with the living areas orientated towards the north and minimal glazing on the southern elevation

BUILDING REQUIREMENTS FOR MILD CLIMATES:

The milder zones will be expected to consider elements based between these two lists. The degree to which you will need to comply is not as severe. However, if you choose to include verandahs on northern elevations, you may need to compensate that with improved glazing and bulk insulation. Elevated floors may comply with additional sub-floor insulation.

PAAL IS HERE TO HELP

Before you start designing your home, it’s a good idea to talk to one of Paal’s expert consultants. And sooner rather than later. Meeting the 7-star rating will demand a high degree of design consideration, particularly in cooler zones. You might envisage certain features that are unsuitable for the location, which could ultimately add significant cost to your build. Our consultants are familiar with the requirements of their local climate zones and will help you meet the energy compliance obligations in advance, minimising any extra cost.

Paal provides an Energy Compliance Certificate for every house purchased, with every single home individually tested and rated for its design and location. Our team is ready to offer you advice and practical solutions, so that you will achieve the new 7-star rating well in advance – which means, when the time comes, all you have to do is get on with building your dream home.