Better to be wary than to worry

The following are mandatory inspections; 1) Inspection of trenches, 2) Inspection of pre-slab, 3) Inspection of steel reinforcement for slab, 4) Inspection of timber/steel framework and 5) Final completion of all building work. One thing many of these all have in common is the inspection of hidden elements but you will notice that there is no inspection of insulation. Incorrectly installed insulation can be just as bad as no insulation at all, so remember all bulk insulation should fit comfortably within framing members with no gaps and should not be compressed.

It's common sense that a building envelope not adequately sealed will leak. Air leakage decreases user comfort through moisture, drafts, unwanted noise and may even lower the air quality. More importantly, air leakage can account for 25-40% of the energy used for heating and cooling. So insist on a tightly sealed building envelope and don't let your 6-Star house perform like a 5-Star house. For more information consider a product such as Fletcher Insulation Tyvek Homewrap or Kingspan AIR-CELL Insulbreak.

Whilst we're primarily interested in reducing air leakage to improve overall energy efficiency, we should mention that water leakage can also have undesirable consequences. Water leakage can ruin building contents and long term structural damage can occur if left unattended.

Architects, Building Designers, Builders and Homeowners have a decision to make when engaging an 'Energy Rater' or Thermal Performance Assessor. From our experience and based on inside knowledge, you essentially get what you pay for. A conscientious Thermal Performance Assessor can literally save their fee in energy saving measures and sound design advice. Involving a Thermal Performance Assessor late in the project yields often limited improvements whereas engaging someone earlier in the design process can inform and shape the project for a better overall outcome. Regardless of your decision, we would highly recommend dealing with an accredited Assessor, as they are subject to Quality Assurance (QA) reviews, remaining up to date with Continual Professional Development (CPD) points and maintaining a suitable level of Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance.

Upon request we are happy to provide a copy of our Certificate of Currency for Professional Indemnity Insurance purposes.

Why do I need an energy rating?

Whether you're building a new residential dwelling, residential alterations and additions or an apartment development, all are required to comply with the National Construction Code (NCC) Building Code of Australia (which is more commonly know as the BCA).

All new residential dwellings in Victoria must be designed to a minimum 6-Star standard using House Energy Rating Scheme (HERS) software, include artificial lighting calculations and the installation of either a rainwater tank or solar hot water service.
Residential alterations and additions in Victoria may use the elemental Deemed to Satisfy (DTS) provision or use House Energy Rating Scheme (HERS) software to separately assess the existing house and then the overall design to determine the required star rating based on a linear relationship between the star rating and building volume.
All new residential multi-dwelling developments in Victoria must reach a total average 6-Star standard with a minimum 5-Star standard for each dwelling using House Energy Rating software (HERS), include artificial lighting calculations and the installation of either a rainwater tank or solar hot water service.
It's important to remember that documentation must be provided to Council or your Registered Building Surveyor (RBS) to ensure compliance, so feel free to contact us if you have any queries or to obtain an obligation free fee proposal.

What is an energy rating?

Energy rating was introduced by the Australian Federal Government in an attempt to reduce the amount of energy households consume and lower greenhouse gas emissions produced from generating electricity.

An energy rating is simply a standard calculation of a building’s energy performance. Essentially a measure of how much energy your house will use to maintain a standard level of thermal comfort over a theoretical year. It's important to understand that an ‘energy rating’ is not a real model but a thermal simulation which can be used to determine regulatory compliance.

For this purpose, an accredited assessor must use a standard calculation method utilising NatHERS approved software. We understand that projects vary and you need the right tool for the job which is why we have extensive experience in AccuRate Sustainability, BERS Professional and FirstRate5. For clients who have adopted ArchiCAD, we can also utilise EcoDesigner for preliminary and schematic design advice.
An energy efficient house can be more comfortable and affordable whilst also being environmentally responsible and help improve our economy.

Welcome to GrahamEnergy

Thank you for taking the time to visit the Graham Energy website. We've been specialising in the Energy Consultation industry for more than 8 years now. Our architectural background and experience working with architects, building designers, builders and manufacturers ensures accurate, efficient, optimum and cost-effective design solutions.
Please look around and hopefully you will find some answers and if not, feel free to send us a question or ask for obligation free fee proposal on our Contact page. Please advise if working toward a deadline, so we can prioritise your project accordingly.
Graham Energy specialises in energy ratings (thermal performance assessments) for all types of residential developments in Victoria and nationally (including BASIX in NSW). We can assess, certify and dispense expert advice on all residential energy efficiency related issues whilst providing a friendly, professional and flexible consultancy service to ensure you have all the necessary information to make well informed decisions.
We are a member of the Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) with accreditation number VIC/BDAV/15/1680. Our dedication is represented by a high level of experience, competency and accreditation in all three NatHERS software, AccuRate Sustainability, BERS Professional and FirstRate5 joined by ArchiCAD (EcoDesigner) for additional schematic design analysis. We have also provided over three years of technical support to the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA), provide training and mentoring services to the BDAV and serve as a member on the BDAV Thermal Performance Assessor Technical Advisory Committee (BDAV TPA TAC) to contribute and improve the industry.
If you are looking for the ultimate in independent technical advice and consultancy, you may be interested in contacting us about The Specialists. This small team of highly skilled Thermal Performance Assessors can provide;
  • Design advice, beta/final testing of thermal performance rating tools and calculation processes.
  • Policy advice on industry technical/practice notes, procedures, codes and protocols.
  • Undertake assessment work that supports the activities of research organisations.
  • Undertake assessment work that tests or validates rule/regulatory changes being considered by Jurisdictions.

Shooting to the stars and beyond...

We're currently working together with many clients to achieve 'high star' residences.

Our business was not founded on simply providing 'star ratings' but providing a professional consultancy service tailored to assist in the production of an efficient, optimum, cost-effective design solution delivered in a friendly and timely manner.

We like to think our clients benefit from our passionate, progressive and personal approach. For some clients the final 'energy rating' signifies the end but for others, it's just the beginning.

Looking for some help?

​​In response to a growing number of accredited and non-accredited Thermal Performance Assessors (or Energy Raters) looking for independent technical support, Graham Energy has established a more personal Help Desk solution.
We provide timely advice and mentoring on a flexible ad-hoc basis covering technical and modelling support for all NatHERS accredited software. We are accredited in AccuRate, BERSPro and FirstRate5 and maintain accreditation with the Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV). We also work closely with the BDAV to deliver practical workshops, Sustainability Victoria to support FirstRate5 and conduct training through various Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).
We have decided not to renew our accreditation with the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA) as of November 2015, electing to assist the BDAV who strongly support the industry and their members.
It doesn't matter if you're just after some friendly modelling advice to help with your RPL submission for the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment or scratching your head trying to work out how to demonstrate minimum regulatory compliance for that alternations and additions project, we will be there to offer some professional guidance.
If you are keen to learn more about this service, then feel free to submit an expression of interest on our Contact page (and don't forget to leave your contact number - we know how important it is to be able to speak with someone).

What do we want?

We're often asked 'What do you want?' and our reply is simply we need sufficient information that describes the overall building fabric. To make things easier we've included a check-list outlining the information required. Don't worry if you don't have all the answers - that's where we step in.


  • Site plan showing all boundaries, adjoining properties and fences including heights
  • North point
  • Floor plan at each level
  • Elevations of all external walls
  • Section(s) with ground levels, floor and ceiling levels, bulkheads and roof levels
  • Window schedule if available (otherwise indicate on drawings)
  • All drawings must be to scale and clearly dimensioned



  • Floor construction (AAC/concrete slab on ground/suspended slab/timber)
  • Floor coverings (carpet/tiles/vinyl/none)
  • Floor insulation if applicable (reflective foil/bulk insulation)
  • External wall construction (brick veneer/cavity brick/FC/single brick/weatherboard)
  • Internal wall construction (brick/metal framed/timber framed)
  • Wall insulation proposed (reflective foil/bulk insulation)
  • Window construction (aluminium/PVC/timber) and manufacturer if known
  • Window type (awning/casement/double hung/louvre/sliding)
  • Window glazing (double/single/reflective/tinted)
  • Show any proposed internal window coverings
  • Show any windows protected with external blinds, awnings, shutters or battens
  • Nominate whether doors/windows are weather-stripped and draught-proof
  • Roof construction (concrete/flat framed/metal/tiled)
  • Roof insulation if applicable
  • Ceiling insulation (bulk insulation)
  • Show all skylights/roof lights and nominate if fixed/vented and/or shaded
  • Specify skylight/roof lights glazing type (single/double)
  • Show any chimneys and nominate whether sealed or unsealed
  • Show the location of any exhaust fans and nominate whether sealed or unsealed
  • Show all vented incandescent/fluorescent down lights
  • Show any ceiling fans and specify the proposed diameter
  • Reflected ceiling plan showing all artificial lighting - we can assist if not available

* Information in brackets are a guide only

Which sites should I visit next?

There's a vast amount of resources available online but we've taken the time to put together a few key sites we think are worth visting;

STATE | Sustainability Victoria | Resource Smart | Save Energy | VBA


INSULATION | CSR Bradford | Fletcher | Kingspan



Please contact us if you have any queries (and don't forget to leave your contact number).