BERS Pro (NatHERS software for thermal comfort) - New fees and big changes from 1st May 2016

BERS Pro will have a “fee-per-certificate” of $22 (incl. GST) starting from 1st May 2016. Currently there is no fee for each dwelling’s certificates (although assessors do pay an annual fee for their “software licence”). The fee was meant to commence on 1st Feb 2016, but the Accreditation of BERS Pro v4.2 was extended until the 1st May 2016.

The new $22 fee will inevitably be passed onto developers and architects, especially for medium to high density apartments, where the “per-dwelling certificate fees” will quickly add up. The other two accredited NatHERS tools (AccuRate and FirstRate5) already have similar “software certificate fees” in place.

There are numerous changes with BERS Pro v4.3, especially in relation to the treatment of windows, window specifications and the permitted deviation from the specifications. In particular, the permitted variation from the simulated SHGCs will now be either 5% or 10%, depending on window type (awning, slider, fixed, etc). Until now, the permitted variation has been 10% for all window types.

BERS Pro v4.2 will expire on 1st May 2016 and Energy Inspection is in the final stages of meeting the NatHERS Protocol for BERS Pro v4.3.  The NatHERS administrator is currently independently validating their results.

                                                                     

Why is there a new “fee-per-certificate” model?

From 1st Feb 2016, BERS Pro will see a change to the way that the Chenath engine is licensed. A $20 fee + GST fee will be collected by the CSIRO (for each dwelling certified). These fees are intended to ensure that the costs of the software are more fairly shared amongst assessors and, indirectly, their clients. These fees contribute to engine development and to improve the viability of the software.

Do assessors need to pay each time they generate a certificate?

Every certified dwelling (including apartments) is faced with the fee of $20 + GST. If assessors  need to make changes to an existing project after they have generated the initial certificate, this will be counted as an amendment and there will not be an additional charge if within 12 months of generating the initial certificate.

Will BERS Pro 4.3 be backwards compatible?

BERS Pro v4.3 will be backwards compatible, in that assessors will be able to load their old BERS Pro v4.2  files (for project re-assessments). However, assessors will need to convert the windows to be compatible with the current windows libraries.

Can assessors amend a project after they have generated a certificate and do they have to pay again?

If a repeat assessment is performed due to amendments to the design, there will not be an additional fee, with some conditions. As long as the address is not changed and less than 12 months have elapsed then it will be treated as an amendment and will not use any additional credits.

BERS Pro v4.3 also used the opportunity to simplify or remove some of the existing “work-arounds”.  Specifically these relate to:

  • Update of construction types to reflect current construction methods and simplify modelling of bulk insulation;
  • Splitting external wall construction horizontally not vertically to model walls with mixed constructions;
  • New technique that allows users to split floors within a zone;
  • Party wall constructions for units and duplex projects;
  • Automatic ceiling penetration calculator to correctly model ceiling insulation;
  • Simple calculations for eaves and wing wall shading with minimal user input;
  • Inclusion of both default and custom window libraries without the need to download and maintain multiple manufacturer custom window libraries.