How much royalty income is CSIRO receiving and what are we doing with it?

Chenath Revenue

In June 2016 the final components of the fee-per-certificate scheme were implemented with BERS Pro accredited and contributing certificate revenue. Consequently the HStar portal now contains a full year of certificates and CSIRO has generated its first full year of expected revenue. It has also been a big year for building permits. CSIRO’s revenue will fluctuate with the level of building activity now rather than reflecting the gradual implementation of the fee-per-certificate scheme.

Total revenue generated in 2016/17 Financial Year           $1,696,685

Total Expenditure 1 July 2016 to end of May 2017              $1,536,875

At the end of the financial year we expect to have spent $1,831,942 (based on current expenditure).

What has the money bought?

Much of CSIRO’s expenditure is on staff. Eight people were involved in supporting AccuRate in the last year, the HStar portal, data analysis services and other functions we provide the NatHERS Scheme. Further funds are used to engage consultants where we require specialist input.

In mid-February 2017 CSIRO presented a work plan to, and requested feedback from, the State jurisdictions and Commonwealth Government. This work plan was supported by the States and Commonwealth with some minor comments and amendments. The work we have agreed and commenced is separated into streams described below. All the work described is due to be completed by the end of the 2018 calendar year when a new work plan will be implemented.

The work-plan provides a comprehensive overview of all the activities CSIRO intends to fund out of royalties collected from the production of NatHERS ‘universal certificates’. Although the NatHERS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) provides direction to CSIRO on priorities for updating the Chenath engine for the Scheme, updating the Chenath engine is just one portion of the NatHERS software support and maintenance work, required of CSIRO for the smooth operation of NatHERS.

Stream 1 – Business as Usual Support and Maintenance

This stream is intended to cover all of the day to day activities CSIRO engages in to support its licensees and end users, and to engage with the NatHERS Administrator. The following activities will be delivered within this stream:

  1. Maintenance, data hosting and bug fixing of AccuRate, Chenath and the HStar portal. This work includes all the day-to-day activities required to operate a business with an annual turnover of ~$1.5million and to maintain the software architecture year-round.
  2. Preparation and attendance at meetings including:
    1. Quarterly NatHERS stakeholder meetings
    2. TAC meetings
    3. Windows meetings
    4. Attending workshops etc. as required.
  3. Provide assistance to the NatHERS Administrator on technical matters as required.
  4. Negotiate an MoU with the Department of the Environment and Energy. The MoU will clarify roles and responsibilities, and provide transparency with regard to funding arrangements.
  5. Update AccuRate batch submission capability to HStar portal.
  6. Release AccuRate v2.3.3.13 SP4.
  7. Develop and draft a Chenath Strategy describing CSIRO’s 5 year vision for the software and its operating plan.

Stream 2 – NatHERS Administrator Directed Software Updates

This stream covers work CSIRO is explicitly directed to undertake by the NatHERS Administrator. This is the sort of work that might have been funded by direct contract in the past.

Many of these updates are on the agreed work plan that will be implemented to align with the release of the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019, and will require CSIRO to develop one or more beta versions of the Chenath Engine and AccuRate for Preliminary Impact Assessment.

The work in this stream is listed below. Some of it may not be completed within this workplan period.

  1. 2015 weather files update and addition of new files.
  2. Add limestone values to Chenath material library.
  3. Improve waffle pod modelling.
  4. Optimise modelling of reflective foil insulation (to be reviewed by the NatHERS Technical Advisory Committee).
  5. New zones for double height voids (dependent on feedback from assessors)
  6. Improve modelling carparks/basements for class 2 buildings and rooms that have walls. adjacent to earth (requires research to understand extent of issue and propose solution)
  7. Improve modelling to provide additional apartment corridor options (requires research to understand extent of issue and propose solution. May be implemented outside of this work plan period).
  8. Ground modelling improvements.
  9. Improve underfloor zone modelling and edge slab/under-slab insulation (includes significant research).
  10. Improve unenclosed perimeter platform floored/subfloor zones (requires research)
  11. Area correction factor and star band review (contingent on outcomes of Preliminary Impact Assessment).
  12. Progress outcomes of the Windows Workshop (August 2016), including:
    1. develop new library builder for custom windows
    2. improve frame fraction calculations for default windows to enable small and large windows to more accurately reflect real windows, and
    3. develop and implement default and custom skylight library

Stream 3 – Operating System Updates and Software Useability

This stream describes updates to the software that CSIRO will undertake to further streamline NatHERS operation through, amongst other things, the cloud-based payments and certification processes. This aims to increase maintainability, transparency and traceability.

  1. Develop an updated AccuRate user manual, as the NatHERS Benchmark Tool, based on the recent update of the FirstRate5 manual.
  2. Provide technical input to the development of the new Software Accreditation Protocol.
  3. Develop heuristics to assess and notify the likelihood of data entry error in the certificates uploaded to the HStar portal.
  4. Investigate re-writing and documenting the AccuRate front-end in a modern programming language.

Stream 4 – Assessor and Scheme Engagement

This stream includes all activities undertaken by CSIRO to engage with, upskill, inform or monitor thermal performance assessors using NatHERS tools.

  1. Write draft text for fact sheets for publication on the NatHERS website for a general audience, explaining:
    1. How NatHERS ratings are calculated
    2. What is an area correction factor?
    3. How star bands work
  2. Publish an annual statement of income and expenditure (this document)
  3. Publish the Energy Rating news twice annually.
  4. Scope and deliver a bi-annual assessor event, bringing together speakers from Government and Industry to inform assessors about changes in the software and industry.

 Stream 5 –  Research and Industry Capacity and Capability Building

This stream addresses the ongoing need to (i) maintain industry skills/ develop the next generation of building thermal physics experts and (ii) run a program of software validation and science investigation in support of the NatHERS Scheme.

  1. CSIRO will research whether there is a case-for-change to improve reflective foil insulation in Chenath.
  2. Compare the outputs of Chenath to the measured, sub-metered, energy use of 140 houses over 5 years, including matching occupancy profiles and weather data. This will provide the most comprehensive validation of the modelling software ever undertaken.
  3. CSIRO will investigate and publish a report on the uses and benefits of universal certificate data.
  4. Co-supervise at least 1 PhD.
  5. CSIRO sponsored and spoke at the International Residential Energy Efficiency event at University of Wollongong in February 2017.

 Stream 6 – Data

CSIRO currently collects certificate and rating file data from AccuRate and BERS Pro. FirstRate5 data is collected in a separate database owned by Sustainability Victoria. This stream focusses on harmonising, consolidating and providing access to the full national data set. CSIRO’s recent ‘Statement of Expectations’, issued by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, re-affirms CSIRO’s national role as custodian of important national data sets.

  1. Scope jurisdictional data needs.
  2. Implement a solution to provide the NatHERS Administrator and all jurisdictions with adequate data for NatHERS reporting and policy development purposes.
  3. Negotiate with SV to share data.
  4. Implement a software solution to combine the data.
  5. Harmonise data chain of custody across software packages and end-users.
  6. Develop a bespoke data portal and/or other solutions (such as API) through which jurisdictions, the Commonwealth and possibly the public can access certificate data and analytic tools.


We always welcome suggestions for how Chenath revenue can be spent to support the NatHERS Scheme. Please send your suggestions to