Study: Australia’s Sustainability Scheme Overlooks an Important Factor

skyscrapers under bright afternoonResearchers from the University of South Australia said in a study that the Australian Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) has overlooked heat stress resistance as an important factor for a building’s energy efficiency.

The country uses the programme to evaluate residential building power consumption, as per the National Construction Code. In the process, however, the scheme has paved the way for the construction of structures that are less-resistant to heat waves.

Defining Heat Resistance

Buildings that are resistant to heat stress should be able to reduce the ‘the peak cooling demand and annual cooling energy consumption’ aside from reducing the amount of time when inhabitants feel uncomfortable without air-conditioning in case of a heat wave, according to the study.

Therefore, NatHERS should consider including a building’s heat stress resistance as a factor when assessing its energy-efficiency. It may even help lower costs on heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC), which is responsible for an estimated 40% of a building’s total energy consumption, according to the Australian Department of Environment and Energy.

Heating and Cooling Systems

An efficient HVAC and cooling water system should include quality components, such as cooling tower filtration equipment, as a complementary resource to new trends. The use of geothermal heating and cooling system, for instance, has become popular in multifamily properties.

Ground source heat pumps and their popularity stems from lower energy consumption. This could be the reason more buildings will use it in the next five years. Another modern solution for multifamily buildings involves the use of smart building controls, which detect whether a room is empty or not and will accordingly adjust the necessary power consumption.

As buildings become more sustainable, it may be a good option to consider heat stress resistance when evaluating a building’s energy efficiency aside from using traditional HVAC components.