AccuRate: helping designers deliver energy efficient homes

To meet the increasing need for energy efficient housing, CSIRO has developed software to help designers and architects model, measure and compare the energy efficiency of house designs.

The Challenge

Growing demand for energy efficient houses

Energy efficiency is the new must have in house design. Home builders want houses that are comfortable, and they want this comfort delivered in a cost-effective, sustainable manner.

There is a growing demand for energy efficient houses. © CSIRO, CT Image Technology

Australia’s climate varies significantly across the continent, and even within individual states. Houses need to be designed to adapt to their unique environment whether that is tropical Darwin or chilly Hobart.

The challenge is being able to model how a particular house design will respond to the local climate and tweak this design to achieve the best energy efficiency with minimum costs.

Our Response

Dynamic numeric model calculates energy requirement

In response to this need, CSIRO has developed a software tool called AccuRate — building on decades of scientific research and lessons from over a decade of the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme program.

AccuRate helps designers delivery energy efficient homes © Energy Inspection

AccuRate enables house designers to model a house to a fine level of detail, calculate temperatures, heating and cooling energy requirements on an hourly basis, and assess a house’s energy efficiency in any one of 69 different climatic zones in Australia.

AccuRate can model up to 50 living spaces and 99 zones within a home; a significant increase from the earlier modelling software. The model includes a wide range of factors that impact a house’s energy efficiency; such as natural ventilation, insulation, air leakage, thermal mass, roof spaces, sub-floor spaces, skylights, horizontal reflective air gaps, windows, and external shading structures such as neighbouring buildings, trees and fences.

AccuRate allows designers to flip and rotate buildings, which is particularly useful in assessing the energy efficiency of apartment complexes or large housing projects. It also includes extra modules that allow designers to investigate other sustainability parameters outside the energy efficiency rating, like lighting, space heating and cooling, hot water, water usage, and embodied carbon dioxide.

The Results

Internationally acclaimed program for energy efficient house design

Developed in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, the AccuRate program is the result of decades of experience and research in house energy modelling.

The program has been assessed against the International Energy Agency BESTEST, which found that it compared well against their eight reference programs from the US and Europe.

AccuRate is currently the benchmark software for house energy rating in Australia for compliance with the national building code. It helps move Australian houses into a new era of comfort and energy efficiency.

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