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Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > Construction > Sustainability > Sustainable housing laws > Energy equivalence rating > 5-star standard for units

 5-star standard for units

New multi-unit residential buildings and major renovations (e.g. additions or alterations) to these buildings must meet a 5-star energy rating.

The sole occupancy units within a new multi-unit residential building must collectively achieve an average energy rating of 5-stars for the whole building and no individual unit can achieve less than 4-stars. This accounts for the different orientations and elevations of the individual units within the building. For example, units with a southern orientation have less potential for solar access and those in the middle of the building have more shading than those on the outside.

A 5-star unit is not only more comfortable to live in, it can also provide an ongoing savings on energy bills because it can use less energy for artificial cooling and heating.

Compliance with the 5-star unit rating can be achieved through the use of software accredited under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (BERS Pro, AccuRate and FirstRate5).

How to achieve the 5-star energy rating

There are many design features that can contribute to the 5-star standard for units, such as:

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

It is important to consider the climatic conditions of the area in which the unit building is to be built or renovated so that its design can provide maximum comfort for occupants while minimising energy running costs. Find design tips for your climate zone here.

Optional credits for outdoor living areas

To reflect our Queensland lifestyle and climate, an optional credit of up to 1 star for an outdoor living area with each unit of the building can be used towards its average star rating.

Individual sole occupancy units in climate zones 1 (tropical) and 2 (subtropical) can gain up to 1-star optional credit with the inclusion of an outdoor living area, such as a deck or balcony. The credit can only be used when calculating the average star rating for the entire building.

The following credits apply where the outdoor living area is attached to and directly accessible from an internal living area (such as a lounge, kitchen or family room, but not a bedroom, bathroom or laundry), and complies with the following minimum design requirements:

  • a ½-star credit for a fully-covered outdoor living area that is connected to an indoor living area and is:
    • at least 12 square metres floor area
    • a minimum dimension of 2.5 metres in all directions
    • covered by an impervious roof with an insulation R-value of at least R-1.5, and
    • at least 1 side is open or capable of being opened.
  • a 1-star credit when an outdoor living area as described above is fitted with at least 1 ceiling fan that has a speed controller and a blade rotation diameter of at least 900 millimetres. Air conditioners that service any room directly adjacent to an outdoor living area must 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 multi-unit residential building standard.

A sole-occupancy unit cannot be promoted as achieving greater than its individual Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) star rating (as per its Universal Certificate) where the additional stars are based on the inclusion of the optional credit for an outdoor living area. Outdoor living areas can only be used when calculating the average star rating for the entire building.

When marketing a unit above the required 5-star standard, any advertising material should not add any extra stars from the inclusion of optional credits. If an outdoor living area is included in the design, it should be promoted only as separate energy efficiency and/or lifestyle feature and not be added to the unit's star rating.

The 5-star unit building requirement is regulated through the Queensland Development Code 4.1 – Sustainable buildings.

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Last updated 24 June 2016    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


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