5-star energy standard for units

New multi-unit residential buildings (class 2) must meet at least a 5-star energy rating.

All sole-occupancy units must collectively achieve an average energy rating of at least 5-stars for the whole building, with no individual unit rated less than 4-stars. This accounts for the different orientations and elevations of the individual units within the building (e.g. units with a southern orientation have less solar access).

A 5-star (or better) unit is designed to be more energy efficient and comfortable to live in, and can provide ongoing savings to householders by minimising energy use for artificial cooling and heating.

How the rating is assessed

Software is the only assessment method used to determine the energy efficiency of units. Each unit in the building must have a NatHERS Certificate. While units in a building may have similar designs, they will each have a different orientation and height.

For the energy efficiency of common areas and shared services, like artificial lighting and central plant facilities for air-conditioning, the National Construction Code's Volume One—Energy Efficiency (Section J) provisions apply.

How to achieve the 5-star energy rating

There are many design features that can contribute to the minimum standard for units, including:

  • northern orientation of living rooms
  • natural ventilation through windows and doorways
  • shading with wider eaves and awnings
  • insulation in roof space and walls
  • high-performance glazing
  • light-coloured roofs and walls
  • ceiling fans in living areas and bedrooms
  • well-designed outdoor living areas.

The design must account for the climate of the area where the unit is located. Read more design tips for your climate zone.

Optional credits for outdoor living areas

Optional credits for outdoor living areas can be used towards meeting the 5–star requirement for unit buildings. Up to a 1 star credit is provided for each unit that includes an outdoor living area, which can be used when calculating the building's average star rating.

The optional credits only apply to unit buildings in climate zone 1 (tropical) and 2 (subtropical).

For an outdoor living area with a unit, it must meet minimum design requirements:

  • ½-star credit for a fully-covered outdoor living area that is connected to an indoor living area (such as a lounge, kitchen or family room) where it has:
    • at least 12m2 floor area
    • a minimum dimension of 2.5m in all directions
    • an impervious roof with an insulation R-value of at least R-1.5
    • at least 1 side open or capable of being readily opened.
  • 1-star credit when an outdoor living area:
    • meets the above requirements
    • is fitted with at least 1 ceiling fan that has a speed controller and a blade rotation diameter of at least 900mm.

In addition, where an air conditioner services the room directly adjacent to the outdoor living area it must be able to be automatically shut down when an external door that provides access to the outdoor living area is open for more than 1 minute.

Marketing star rating and optional credits

Optional credits are provided for regulatory purposes only to assist in complying with Queensland's 5-star standard for units. They do not extend the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) star range beyond 10 stars.

A unit cannot be promoted as having more than 5-stars if those additional stars rely on optional credits for outdoor areas. For example, if a unit achieves a 5-star building shell rating (as per its NatHERS Certificate), the inclusion of an outdoor living area with fan does not increase its rating to 6 stars. The optional credits for units can only be used towards calculating the building's average rating.

The 5-star standard for units is regulated through the Queensland Development Code 4.1—Sustainable buildings.

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