In 2011, Australia’s first 9-star energy rated house, , was built. Winner of the 2011 BPN Sustainability Award, the house, located in Melbourne, used a range of insulation smarts to achieve the high level thermal comfort needed to be rated at a 9-stars.

What is a 9-star energy rated house? 

According to the NatHERS scale – the federal government-administrated Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme that was introduced to assess the potential thermal comfort of Australian homes on a scale of zero to 10 stars – occupants of houses rated at or around the 10-star mark are unlikely to need much, if any artificial cooling or heating. At the other end of the scale, a zero-rated house means the building shell does practically nothing to reduce the discomfort of hot or cold weather.

According to NatHERS , houses built in 1990 averaged about 1 star on the scale. Before the introduction of national energy efficiency regulations for houses in 2003, less than 1 per cent of Australian houses achieved 5 stars. Many well designed houses are now being built that are rated at seven stars or more.

As for a 9-star home, according to Positive Footprints , a house like Penola will use 80 per cent less energy to heat and cool than a 6-star house (the current standard), and one tenth of the energy of average existing housing stock.

Foamex’s Styroboard Expanded Polystyrene has been used by Positive Footprints to achieve 8+ stars in a sustainable home, which was an entry in the 2014 Victorian Master Builders Excellence in Construction, Housing, and Regional Building Awards

Strong and durable, Styroboard Expanded Polystyrene can be used in a wide range of residential, commercial, and industrial constructions. By building with Styroboard EPS, home and building owners can limit external temperature influences, reduce internal temperature fluctuations, and in turn reduce the need for mass air-conditioning and electricity consumption. This superior thermal performance means less energy is consumed, leading to fewer greenhouse emissions.

Is 9-star rating the next norm for the Australian building industry? 

It may be a while off to become the new norm, but polystyrene is certainly up to the task to provide extreme levels of insulation and comfort.