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Explanation of terms used in the Energy Efficiency Industry

There’s so many terms specific to the Energy Efficiency industry that it can be hard to keep track of them all. Here’s a glossary list of some of the ones we use, plus what they mean.


α (greek alpha)The Solar Absorptance of a surface – based on the colour of the surface (lighter is lower).
AAOAssessor Accrediting Organisation. Currently ABSA and BDAV.
ABCBThe Australian Building Codes Board
ABSAThe Australian Building Sustainability Association, an Assessor Accrediting Organisation. Previously known as the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors.
Accredited SoftwareFor us with Residential buildings, this means BERS Pro V4.3.
For us with Commercial buildings, this means DesignBuilder.
AFRCThe Australian Fenestration Rating Council. Also used to reference the thermal performance values of glass.
ANSIAmerican National Standards Institute. Sometimes referenced in international settings
ANZSESThe ANZES – Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society
Approved ProceduresNatHERS-approved National Procedures
ASHRAEThe American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Sometimes referenced in international settings
AssessorResidential Thermal Performance Assessor, or Licensed operator of Commercial Building Assessment software.
BCAThe Building Code of Australia (National Construction Code)
BDAVThe Building Designers Association of Victoria, an Assessor Accrediting Organisation.
Brick VeneerA wall constructed of brick or block, with timber or metal frame, airspace & plasterboard or Fibre-Cement lining.
Building EnvelopeThe extent of the conditioned space – may include spaces that are “accidentally” conditioned.
Building FabricRoof, Ceiling (including Roof lights), Walls & Floor
Cavity PanelA wall constructed of metal or Fibre-Cement cladding, with a timber or steel frame, airspace & plasterboard or Fibre-Cement lining.
Certified AssessorsSomeone who has passed the ABSA Assessor Exam, and signed a Code of Conduct & has Professional Indemnity Insurance.
CladdingExternal facing material with or without an airspace.
Commercial Building SoftwareSoftware that complies with the ABCB Protocol for Building Energy Analysis Software 2006.1
Concrete BlockConcrete Block – all cores filled
Concrete Block (Lightweight)Hollow Concrete Block
Concrete PanelSolid reinforced concrete tilt panel.
DesignBuilderApproved Software for Commercial buildings. Uses the EnergyPlus calculation engine, developed by the US Department of Energy.
DTSDeemed-To-Satisfy – a method of assessment (formerly called “Deemed to Comply”).
EEREnergy Efficiency Ratio – output energy divided by total input energy (including controls & circulation fans)
ElementsItems in Section J – Building Fabric, Glazing, Air-conditioning, Artificial Lighting
FoilReflective foil insulation. Its effective R-value is determined by its emittance, angle, air space thickness & the direction of heatflow
GBCAThe Green Building Council of Australia
Green StarJV2 Assessments, a method of building assessment that can be more holistic than just thermal performance by including things like light pollution, potable water use, construction waste recycling, etc
HVACHeating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning. The equipment used to heat & cool a building, including any ducting for fresh air.
InsulationA material designed to resist the transfer of heat. The main types are fibre (loose, bulk, batts), foam (fill, boards) or foil (anti-glare, laminated)
J0NCC Volume One Section J, Part J0 – Energy Efficiency DTS Provisions, the main section that ties everything together for commercial DTS assessments
J1NCC Volume One Section J, Part J1 – Building Fabric DTS provisions. Roofs, walls, glazing, floors, etc
J2NCC Volume One Section J, Part J2 – Glazing DTS provisions. This section was removed in NCC2016 and glazing is now covered in Part J1
J3NCC Volume One Section J, Part J3 – Building Sealing DTS Provisions. Weather stripping on doors & windows, dampers on chimneys/flues/exhaust fans, construction gaps & cracks
J4NCC Volume One Section J, Part J4 – Air Movement. This section was removed in BCA2010 and is now covered in other sections
J5NCC Volume One Section J, Part J5 – Air-Conditioning & Ventilation Systems. Covers requirements for various system sizes/uses such as control requirements, reheating limits, timer switches, etc
J6NCC Volume One Section J, Part J6 – Artificial Lighting & Power DTS provisions. Maximum power allowances of lights plus adjustments for motion detectors, daylight sensors, timers, etc while also covering lifts & escalators
J7NCC Volume One Section J, Part J7 – Heated Water Supply & Swimming Pool/spa plant equipment DTS Provisions
J8NCC Volume One Section J, Part J8 – Energy Monitoring DTS Provisions
JP1NCC Volume One Section J, Performance Requirement 1 – design & services that facilitate efficient use of energy in a building.
JP2NCC Volume One Section J, Performance Requirement 2 – services that facilitate maintenance & service of systems incorporated in the building.
JP3NCC Volume One Section J, Performance Requirement 3 – services that facilitate heating for a conditioned space. Must source energy from low greenhouse gas intensity source, or have an on-site renewable energy source.
JV2NCC Volume One Section J, Green Star assessments that consider aspects such as light pollution, potable water use, public transportation access, etc
JV3NCC Volume One Section J, Verification Method (thermal calculation) that compares the Total Building Energy of the proposed building with a Reference Building
kWhKilowatt-hours – a unit of electrical energy. 1 kilowatt-hour = 3.6 MegaJoules
LiningInternal wall sheeting, usually fixed to the frame of the studs
LowEGlass with a low emittance (a lower U-value)
MEPSMinimum Energy Performance Standards, a requirement that all air-conditioning & heating equipment must meet certain energy efficiency levels. See for more info.
NatHERSThe Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme
NCCThe National Construction Code – BCA Volumes 1 & 2 and the National Plumbing Code.
Partially conditionedA space that draws its fresh air (e.g. for exhaust make-up) from a conditioned space.
PlasterboardGypsum core board lined on both sides with paper
Reference BuildingA building with the same dimensions as the proposed building but with all Elements complying with the DTS requirements.
Residential SoftwareSoftware that complies with the NatHERS Protocol for House Energy Rating Software (e.g. BERS Pro V4.2).
RPEQA Registered Professional Engineer Queensland
R-valueThe thermal resistance of a component (this could be just the material only, or the total system’s thermal resistance). A Higher value means less heat transfer.
Section JNCC Volume 1 Energy Efficiency Provisions, generally for commercial buildings
SHGCSolar Heat Gain Coefficient – the amount of solar energy that passes through a piece of glazing into the room.
Star RatingAn Energy Efficiency assessment of a residential building. An in-depth thermal calculation using Accredited Software, Approved Procedures & Certified Assessors.
Thermal BreakSeparating insulation between external cladding & supporting frames or studs that share the internal lining (ceiling or wall). Must be at least R0.2 for metal frames – can be avoided by cross battens (e.g. horizontal battens on vertical studs).
Total R-valueAggregate R-value of the individual composite layers of materials in a system, including air spaces & air films.
UCUniversal Certificate, also known as a NatHERS Certificate
U-valueThermal Conductance of a composite element. For Glazing, this can be glass-only (g) or glass+frames (w=window). A lower value means less heat transfer. Mathematically speaking the U-value is the inverse of the R-value, R = 1/U .
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