Major Renovation Efficiency Tips for Architects and Builders
For builders and architects undertaking a major home renovation, form always follows function. However, aesthetics and liveability aren’t the end of it. Nowadays, you will also be required to comply with the minimum building energy efficiency standards set by your state and territory, which usually closely follow the National Construction Code (NCC).
The 2022 Updates to the NCC – which came into force in May 2023 – aim to reduce both embodied and operational energy consumption, and in doing so lower greenhouse gas emissions.
A key requirement of the NCC is achieving a minimal thermal performance of the equivalent of 7 stars under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). This will also improve the thermal comfort and health of occupants.
A major renovation is an opportunity to create sustainable and comfortable living spaces while meeting the demands of environmentally conscious clients. Let’s take a look at ways for builders and architects to achieve this, with the help of high-performance window and door systems by Thermotek.
Firstly, what’s the process of rating an existing home and a renovation for NatHERS?
When it comes to NatHERS ratings, there’s a distinction between existing homes and new constructions, which require intricate architectural drawings and specifications. However, an onsite visit will also likely be required for renovations, along with drawings and plans.
Limited information usually exists on original construction materials for older homes, which means a holistic approach is required. It may also mean a level of variation in the results compared to the standardised NatHERS approach for new dwellings.
For builders and architects, it’s essential to understand the purpose of NatHERS assessments for existing homes before a renovation takes place. Homeowners who want a better understanding of their home’s energy performance can now request a voluntary NatHERS In Home endorsed assessment.
These assessments serve as valuable tools for homeowners, offering insights into their home’s energy performance, cost-efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and overall comfort. Furthermore, they become crucial when selling or renting a property, providing disclosure of its energy performance.
By leveraging these assessments, builders and architects can guide homeowners in making informed decisions about the materials chosen for the renovation.
What are key design approaches to achieve a 7-star NatHERS rating for a major renovation?
Achieving a 7-star NatHERS rating for a renovation may vary depending on the specific location, climate, and existing conditions of the renovation project. Consulting with a qualified NatHERS energy assessor or building sustainability consultant can provide tailored advice. However, some key areas to pay attention to are:
Insulation: Improve insulation throughout the building envelope, including the roof, walls, and floors. Use high-quality insulation materials with proper installation to minimise heat transfer.
Sealing and Air Leakage: Address any gaps, cracks, or air leakage points in the building envelope. Properly seal doors, windows, and other openings to prevent drafts and heat loss.
Orientation and Shading: Consider the building’s orientation to maximise passive solar gain in winter and minimise heat gain in summer. Use shading devices such as eaves, awnings, or external blinds to reduce direct sun exposure to windows.
Energy-Efficient Lighting: Utilise energy-efficient lighting fixtures such as LED bulbs. Create natural lighting whenever possible by incorporating skylights or larger windows.
Heating and Cooling Systems: Install energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, such as heat pumps or high-efficiency air conditioners, with zoning capabilities. Ensure proper insulation and duct sealing for optimal performance.
Energy-Efficient Appliances: Choose energy-efficient appliances with high energy star ratings for areas such as the kitchen and laundry. This includes refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and others.
Ventilation: Install energy-efficient ventilation systems, such as Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation (MHRV), to provide fresh air while minimising heat loss or gain. This is a key design tenet of Passive Design.
High-Performance Windows: Install energy-efficient windows with low emissivity (low-E) coatings and double or triple glazing. Opt for windows that provide good thermal insulation while allowing natural light into the space.
How exactly do high-performance windows help achieve energy efficiency?
High-performance windows with excellent insulation properties can help achieve both Passive Design and a 7-star NatHERS rating, by optimising thermal comfort and lowering the need for heating and cooling systems.
At Thermotek, our window frames feature a sophisticated design with fusion welded air chambers. These chambers not only provide a superior seal on the frame itself but also contribute to enhanced insulation. Adding to the thermal performance, our dual TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) seals further augment the overall efficiency.
One of the key factors contributing to insulation in our products is the gap between the windowpanes. This gap, combined with insulating gas, effectively slows down thermal transfer through conduction.
The window and door systems are designed to impede the trapping of heat. Instead, they strategically decelerate its movement to minimise heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer. By eliminating circulation within the panes, we significantly reduce heat transfer.
The result? Thermotek systems ensure a more stable temperature within a home, reducing the frequency of the need to use heating or cooling systems. This not only enhances comfort but also contributes to energy efficiency.
High-Performance Windows can also Manage Condensation in Older Homes
Older residences may be prone to condensation problems, which can be addressed during the renovation.
Condensation may occur on windows when exposed to humid indoor air. In many homes with 3mm panes of glass, the windows become a cold surface in winter, forming condensation when hit by warm, moist air inside the home. High moisture levels can then cause damage to walls, carpets or even cause dangerous mould.
This can be managed by using windows like those manufactured by Thermotek, i.e., low-conductivity, insulated glass, double glazing and features such as warm-edge spacers on windows to reduce condensation.
Sustainable Materials Help Achieve Better Energy Efficiency
The fabric used in construction counts. By incorporating resilient, certified-sustainable, or carbon-neutral materials into a renovation, the overall NatHERS rating of a building can be significantly improved.
Sustainable materials can range from recyclable timbers and tiles to cool roofs and high-performance windows.
At Thermotek, we take pride in manufacturing window systems with a conscientious approach. Our window profiles are crafted using uPVC, which has a lower environmental impact than traditional PVC. It is derived from a calcium-organic chemical compound and is both 100% recyclable and lead-free. It’s also more affordable than thermally broken aluminium.
Prioritising Environmentally Friendly Renovation Practices
It is crucial to incorporate sustainable practices during the construction phase of a renovation to minimise the embodied emissions associated with building.
Embodied emissions encompass the carbon emissions generated throughout the entire lifecycle of a structure, from production and construction to maintenance, replacement, and eventual disposal.
Adopting environmentally friendly construction processes involves prioritising continuous recycling and upcycling to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. By making good decisions throughout the design and construction journey, the overall sustainability of the project can be significantly enhanced.
At Thermotek, we understand the importance of designing solutions tailored to the Australian climate. Our products are locally manufactured, reflecting our commitment to sustainable practices. We prioritise low-waste manufacturing processes, always placing sustainability at the forefront of our operations.
Choose Stylish, Sustainable Windows for a Beautiful Renovation
In the past, sustainable design choices have been quite limited. For builders and architects looking to create a specific aesthetic for a renovation, that’s luckily no longer the case.
Thermotek’s Boutique Series 5000 window and door systems combine visual beauty with design flexibility, all while delivering excellent energy efficiency.
Engineered with a 5-chamber uPVC profile by aluplast, the Boutique Series 5000 is specifically designed and rigorously tested to withstand the Australian climate. Not only is uPVC highly durable and thermally efficient, but it also minimises plastic usage.
Whether for new builds or renovations, the Boutique Series 5000 windows and doors are suitable for a wide range of sustainable residential projects. Furthermore, they provide a more cost-effective alternative to other solutions.
With our selection of stylish and modern Architectural and Woodgrain colours, you can rest assured that these contemporary uPVC windows seamlessly integrate into any renovation.
Enhance Energy Efficiency in Your Renovation Project with Thermotek
Sustainability is the core philosophy of Thermotek, permeating every aspect of what we do. All of our window systems are manufactured in an ecological, managed way with minimal waste.
We know that trees and plants are vital for life on our planet and to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Our Thermotree Program sees trees planted on behalf of clients for every purchase – an initiative we started with the planting of 600 trees.
Our dedicated team will collaborate with you to create a customised solution that is tailored to your budget.
If you’d like detailed information on Thermotek’s products, get in touch with us today.