SmartRate News

JUNE 2015

Dear ,

Welcome to the June 2015 edition of SmartRate News.

In this edition of SmartRate News


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FirstRate5 v5.2 Workshop Series

Dates for the first of our series of workshops in FirstRate5 v5.2 have just been released for Sydney, Adelaide and Perth

Users of  FirstRate5 will find the half day workshop will maximise your understanding of the latest version, FirstRate5 v5.2 and NatHERS Technical Note 1.2.

The workshops are open to anyone who wishes to brush up on their skills and gives you the opportunity to confirm that you are correctly utilising the new software and technical note.

"I think this has been the most helpful CPD event I have attended. Not only did it provide feedback on how well I am performing as an assessor, but it was extremely well presented".

"Matthew was exceptional: knowledgeable, non-judgemental and practical with his advice".

Tony Peart - Gold Coast

Numbers are strictly limited to 10 per session to ensure participants maximise their learning outcomes on how to use the latest version of FirstRate5 correctly.

You do not have to be an accredited assessor to attend this workshop - it is open to anyone who uses the software.

The workshop requires participants to complete and submit an assessment on a supplied set of documentation using FirstRate5 v5.2 and following the NatHERS Technical Note 1.2 prior to the workshop. The projects are then reviewed and discussed during the workshop itself.

This course is eligible for 9 CPD points as it is require 5 hours preparation time prior to the workshop and 4 hours on the day of the workshop itself.

A Certificate of Attendance will be provided to all attendees.

The workshop facilitator is Matthew Graham who has presented similar workshops to BDAV accredited assessors recently in Melbourne.

Matthew is Principal of Graham Energy, a nationally-accredited Thermal Performance Assessor in FirstRate5, AccuRate, and BERS Pro. Graham Energy was established eight years ago, and predominantly specialises in architectural residential projects. Adopting a rigorous approach and integrating energy efficiency with built form, Matthew aims to demystify the design process in order to assist practitioners to make better informed decisions.

For details and to book now click here

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Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment

1 July 2015 Transitional Arrangements - How Do They Affect You?

The Department of Industry and Science (DIS) as NatHERS Administrator announced the transitional arrangements for accredited assessors who are yet to obtain the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment qualification.

"The states and territories have re-confirmed that after five years of development and consultation, from 1 July 2015 all existing accredited assessors will be required to upgrade their skills to the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment. In South Australia, the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment has been the minimum requirement for registration as a home energy assessor since 1 July 2014".

A number of transitional arrangements have been put in place to 31 December 2015. NB. the wording of these arrangements has been amended from that released originally on 19 May.

  1. The arrangement is open only to existing assessors who are accredited with an Assessor Accrediting Organisation (AAO), ABSA or BDAV. Existing assessors need to provide proof before 30 June 2015 that they have enrolled in and fully paid all invoices issued by the RTO for the courses required to obtain the Certificate IV qualifications.
  2. For existing assessors applying for recognition for prior learning (RPL), they need to provide evidence (before 30 June 2015) that they have submitted some evidence of RPL and have enrolled in, and fully paid all invoices issued by the RTO for the courses/work required to obtain Certificate IV qualifications.
  3. If existing assessors are not able to present to the AAOs evidence that they have enrolled in and fully paid all invoices issued by the RTO for the courses to obtain Certificate IV by 30 June 2015, they will be not considered NatHERS accredited assessors from 1 July 2015. They can only be considered a NatHERS accredited assessor after they complete all course requirements and obtain the Certificate IV – that is, they have no transition period.
  4. For existing assessors who have presented to the AAOs that they have enrolled in and fully paid all invoices issued by the RTO for the courses to obtain Certificate IV by 30 June 2015 but failed to obtain Certificate IV at the end of transition date, they will be unaccredited from 1 January 2016 and as such will only be able to access an unaccredited certificate.  Accreditation can be achieved again only after they complete all course requirements and obtain the Certificate IV.
  5. No further extension of these transitions arrangements will be given after 31 Dec 2015.

Following the announcement, we approached DIS and both AAO's to determine what we needed to do to ensure that accredited assessors enrolled with us for the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment qualification are not disadvantaged after 1 July 2015.

Accredited Assessors - Outcome

The following processes will be adopted by SmartRate for accredited assessors enrolled with us in the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment -

  • We will confirm your enrolment in the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment with SmartRate/Education in Building including those completing the qualification by RPL Assessment as at 30 June 2015 with BDAV or ABSA.
  • We will confirm that all invoices issued by us to you have been paid in full as at 30 June 2015 with BDAV or ABSA .


  • We require your permission to release this information to the AAO's. You will receive an email from us in mid June seeking permission from you so we can share your details with BDAV or ABSA.
  • You do not need to send anything to ABSA or BDAV as we will do this in writing on your behalf.

Non-Accredited Raters - Outcome

If you are not currently accredited with ABSA or BDAV as a house energy assessor AND you are enrolled with SmartRate to obtain the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment the DIS transitional arrangements DO NOT APPLY.

We have received a number of queries from raters based in Queensland and WA where it is not mandatory to be an accredited assessor. If you have enrolled with SmartRate to undertake the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment you can complete the qualification at your own pace and the timing is up to you.

If you are a non accredited rater you must comply with the requirements that exist in your State or Territory for completing assessments in accordance with the NCC BCA. This usually means you need to be considered "a competent person" by the Council or Certifier to do this work. Whilst the Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment qualification is not mandatory, it demonstrates to Councils and Certifiers that you hold the required skills to do this work.

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Survey Winner

Thank you to all who participated in our recent survey. Your ideas and suggestions have been noted and will guide us in the courses and workshops we will offer in the coming 6 months.

Dearne Karvon from NSW won the $1000 prize towards a training course of her choice delivered by SmartRate.


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To be or not to be ......... accredited

As we approach the end of June the question of "whether I wil continue as an accredited assessor or not' surfaces for many assessors.

Michael has written an article published in the June BDAV News that suggest it is important for currently accredited assessors to maintain their accreditation and for non-accredited raters to seriously think about applying for accreditation.

The certificates generated by the software tools is a good place to start.

AccuRate Sustainability and FirstRate5 (and BERS from 1 August once re accredited) issue Universal Certificates that attract a fee but more importantly identify if you are accredited or not.

The following Certificate was generated by our training version of Accurate Sustainability and is for an accredited assessor, includes the NatHERS Logo and printed in colour.


The following Certificate is for the same project, again generated by our training version of Accurate Sustainability, but this time for a non accredited rater.


In black and white and no NatHERS logo as you are not accredited. There is the prominent heading "NON-ACCREDITED" and also a note at the bottom of Page 1 that states "This rating has been completed by a non-accredited rater. For more details see the Australian Government Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) website".

Councils, Certifiers and Building Surveyors generally will accept your ratings if you are deemed by them as a "competent person". Do you think they will accept a Certificate that states you are a non accredited rater?

Maybe, but as their profession is under increasing scrutiny in many States and Territories they are less likely to accept ratings from non-accredited raters who do not necessarily hold professional indemnity insurance, are part of a CPD program and work under a Code of Practice.

You can also guarantee that over time they will only accept Certificates generated by the software tool and not one issued by the rater on their own letterhead.

There are other reasons to maintain accreditation as well.

To read Michael's article click here

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AFRC Default Windows Training

From - 26 May 2015 :

"Free training is currently available for accredited assessors on the new default windows. Funding from the National Administrator for the training finishes on 30 June 2015 when free access to the online training course will cease and after that date assessors will need to pay the course cost of $145.

The training covers the use of the new default windows that are used in NatHERS accredited Energy Rating Software.

Once the training is completed, assessors can register for access to the Australian Fenestration Rating Council (AFRC) custom library files. The training is complemented by a quiz for each of the two sections of training. Once they are successfully completed a certificate can be downloaded and used towards CPD. If you are unable to login because the original registration period has elapsed please email (link sends e-mail) to request an extension. Please note that the extension of a registration will not extend beyond 30 June 2015 and all components of the quiz need to be completed by that date. Partial completed participants will need to pay after 30 June regardless of how far they have progressed through the unit.

BERS and FR5 assessors should take this opportunity to complete both units while it is being supported, as costs will apply when custom windows are available in these two software products.

If you wish to do the course and training post 30 June 2015 you can do so through the AFRC. Registration is through the AWA website (link is external). The course cost after 30 June 2015 will be $145 including GST".

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Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment Update

We congratulate all those who have successfully completed this new assessor qualification so far.

The team at SmartRate is currently working our way through a large number of completed submissions and have no classroom courses scheduled for June so our team can focus on marking this work.

When you have completed your tasks and submitted them for assessment you are placed in a queue for marking. We assess student's work strictly in order of completion to be fair to all.

We have received a number of calls from students who have submitted all of their tasks enquiring on their status. Please try and avoid ringing us to see where your submission is in the queue. We would rather spend our working time marking and assessing submissions than on the phone.

If you would like an idea of how long it will take to mark your submission it would be appreciated if you could send your enquiries by email or the SmartRate User Support system.

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Course Schedule Update

The course schedule for the second half of 2015 is available on the SmartRate website now.

Please note that we will be concentrating on the marking of RPL Assessments in June so there are no courses scheduled over this period.


We have launched 3 new software courses -

NatHERS Software Level 1 – Introductory Course - 2 days classroom delivery in FirstRate5 or AccuRate Sustainability

NatHERS Software Level 2 – Intermediate Course - 2 days classroom delivery in FirstRate5 OR 3 days classroom delivery in Accurate Sustainability -

NatHERS Software Level 3 – Advanced Course - 2 days classroom delivery in FirstRate5 or AccuRate Sustainability


The NatHERS Theory and NatHERS Regulations Courses are available online as well as in the classroom.

NatHERS Theory Online

NatHERS Theory is an 8 week course and is delivered once a week over a 1 to 1½ hours online session with a trainer.

The next course commences 25 August.

NatHERS Regulations Online

NatHERS Regulations is a 4 week course and is delivered once a week over a 1 to 1½ hours online session with a trainer.

The next course commences 13 July.

Go to for details.

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Interviews - Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment

The Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment (CPP41212) requires participants to complete 17 units of competency to be awarded the qualification.

Many of these units include a mandatory requirement that a participant be observed by their trainer/assessor at their workplace or in a simulated work environment. We are also required to meet with each participant face to face to confirm their details and other information.

An interview with one of our trainers/assessors is also the opportunity for each candidate to review their progress and to address any concerns that they may have.

SmartRate has scheduled days where you can book an appointment with one of our trainers/assessors to review their progress and to complete a questionnaire that meets the performance requirements of the units of competency in the qualification.

There is no cost to attend an interview with each interview taking 1 to 1.5 hours.

This is a mandatory requirement to obtain this qualification.

To make an appointment for an interview go to

We are scheduling additional interview times for July - book your interview NOW!

NB. If you attend a classroom based course you do not need to book a separate interview as we are able to fulfil these requirements in the classroom.

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From Where I Sit

May has been an interesting month for our industry, one that contained positives and negatives from where I sit.

The positives.

Accredited assessors have been given more time to obtain their Certificate IV in NatHERS Assessment qualification. This is a very generous gesture by the  Buildings Committee and National Administrator considering that accredited assessors have had over 18 months to meet the requirements to be awarded this qualification.

An industry stakeholders meeting was held in Melbourne to provide guidance to DIS on the future of NatHERS out to 2019. The ideas and suggestions put forward were excellent and the topics discussed, if implemented, gives all a degree of certainty for the foreseeable future.

The new owners of BERS have been working hard to update this tool before 1 August. The unfair advantage BERS users currently have over assessors who use Accurate Sustainability or FirstRate5 will disappear and level the playing field.

The negatives.

The number of accredited assessors who are not renewing their accreditation.

There are concerns within the two AAO's that accredited assessors will continue leave the industry enmasse with the introduction of certificate fees and because there are no mandatory jurisdictional requirements in place in most States and Territories for assessors to be accredited. The growing number of non-accredited raters undermines the standards being implemented by the National Administrator on behalf of the States and Territories with the consumer potentially not getting what they are paying for -  a quality and accurate rating for their project.

I have my fingers crossed that ABSA quickly develops a plan for its members for the future.

The organisation lost a lot of experience and corporate knowledge during May with their Technical Support Consultant, Matthew Graham, electing to move on and Helen Reich, ABSA Accreditation Officer, left to start a new job. There is now only Ira Octavia, Quality Assurance Coordinator, in the Sydney office and the rumour is that she is leaving shortly for a better job as well.

Who is going to turn out the lights?

Michael Plunkett - CEO SmartRate.

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User Support Program

Thank you to those users who have enrolled in this new program. We have received a wide range of questions and requests for assistance.

Not yet a member??

For $275 per year you will receive:

  • modelling and mentoring support in your chosen NatHERS software tools
  • how to model materials and products correctly
  • how to model insulation in roof/ceilings/walls and floors correctly
  • review problem or difficult jobs
  • access to knowledge base of specific information
  • 5% discounts on training courses offered by SmartRate

The subscription entitles users to 10 email questions/phone call responses per year with a small additional fee applying thereafter.

Questions/phone calls will be generally answered within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays).

To enrol in the SmartRate User Support program please click here

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Upcoming Courses

We have vacancies on the following courses - if you know of anyone who maybe interested please let them know!

FirstRate5 Training

Level 1 - Brisbane / Perth / Melbourne - 1 & 2 July

Level 2 - Brisbane / Perth / Melbourne - 22 to 24 July

Level 3 - Perth / Melbourne - 10 & 11 September

AccuRate Sustainability Training

Level 1 - Sydney / Melbourne / Perth - 6 & 7 August

Level 2 - Sydney / Melbourne / Perth - 25 to 27 August

Level 3 - Sydney / Melbourne / Perth - 10 & 11 September

NatHERS Theory Online

8 weeks starting 25 August

NatHERS Theory Face to Face

Sydney / Melbourne / Canberra - 8 & 9 July

NatHERS Regulations Online

4 weeks starting 13 July

NatHERS Regulations Face to Face

Sydney / Melbourne / Canberra - 10 July

NatHERS Assessment Strategies (formerly Building Assessment)

Sydney / Melbourne / Perth - 14 to 17 September

Details are available at

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The team at SmartRate

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