Darwin Home Comfort Rating

Most Darwin households rely upon air-conditioning to maintain thermal comfort during the build-up and wet season, which results in increased energy demand and related costs and emissions. Energy star ratings assess energy use when air conditioners are on. The new ‘for information’ Home Comfort Ratings assess the comfort of Darwin living room and bedroom designs when no air conditioning is being used.   

Project duration: March 2022 – March 2023

How is the project improving understanding of thermal comfort in Darwin homes?

This project was led by CSIRO’s Building Energy team and the NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics to develop best practice comfort ratings for Darwin’s unique climate.  The Home Comfort Ratings will be:

  • Built into CSIRO’s accredited Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) software, AccuRate
  • For voluntary use for design optimisation
  • Complement the current energy ratings used to demonstrate compliance with National Construction Code energy efficiency requirements.

Design choices are important to make houses as comfortable as possible when air conditioning is not used because:

  • Not everyone can afford to rely on air conditioning for comfort
  • Over-heating in housing can affect people’s health, quality of life and willingness to live and work in the Territory
  • Houses should be as comfortable as possible during black outs
  • Energy use from air conditioning is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The outcomes seek to give consumers, designers and builders better evidence for house design/selection decision making. The project aims to demonstrate a methodology transferable to other NT and Australian climate zones.

What have we done?

The project convened a session as part  of the Darwin Living Lab 2022 Symposium, which included a keynote presentation by Adj Professor Terence Williamson (University of Adelaide) – Field validation of modelled thermal comfort and Darwinian’s thermal comfort thresholds and panel discussion and voting on thermal comfort metrics.

Associate Professor Wendy Miller (Queensland University of Technology) led a comprehensive analysis that provides the evidence to support the development of a comfort rating tool with ‘for information’ living room and bedroom comfort ratings for Darwin dwellings (final report available here).

The CSIRO Building Energy team has developed a version of AccuRate that provides living room and bedroom comfort ratings for Darwin residential buildings.

What’s next?

The project hosted a community and industry forum to launch a new Home Comfort Rating system for Darwin residential building designs . This forum included presentations, a live Home Comfort Rating demonstration and a ‘where to from here?’ discussion opportunity. Presentations included:

  • University of Adelaide presentation on the field validation of the house energy and comfort rating software in Darwin
  • A presentation on the development of comfort ratings by Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Project leaders

Johanna Kieboom

Project Leader, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Dr Dong Chen

Project Leader, CSIRO Energy