Oct 2018
Zero Carbon Homes

3ARK joined the launch of SJDs zero carbon home. As part of the As Built Verification check, 3ARK performed the building airtightness test of the home which achieved a best practice air-leakage result.

Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard Bulletin 9: Out and about - Extract

"During July, August and September, the Scorecard team worked with the Alternative Technology Association to find ATA members who were keen to get a Scorecard assessment and be interviewed about their experience. 3ARK assessors Ash and Ratko pounded the pavements of Melbourne and regional Victoria with Jacinta from ATA, producing 14 'before and after' studies of renovations. The houses range from tiny to huge, urban to rural, and from architect-designed deep-green homes to regular suburban dwellers looking to save money on energy bills."

If renovating

Sep 2018

Sustainable House Day
3ARK have had the privilege of performing Residential Scorecard Assessments on a number of homes opening on Sunday 16 September for Sustainable House Day. We've seen an interesting variety of homes and met enthusiastic owners who have their story to share. You have the opportunity to inspect firsthand houses that have been designed, built or renovated with sustainability in mind as well as the opportunity to talk to owners and receive unbiased advice

To find out more, please checkout this link

May 2018

Australian Residential Energy Rating Conference 2018​
With the support of NatHERS, CSIRO organised a conference for residential energy assessors and others in the building industry interested in energy efficient housing. This informative, two-day conference, with over 50 expert speakers, was held on 28 and 29 May, 2018, at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne.

Residential Scorecard
Looking for ways to make your home more comfortable and cheaper to run?

The Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard achieved commercial launch in April. 3ARK are accredited assessors who can perform an assessment of your home or intended purchase. We can also perform a desktop Scorecard assessment based on your plans (new home or renovation) which can help you make energy efficient choices.

We have performed over 140 assessments and here's what one customer had to say, "After the assessment, we feel that we have a clear idea of all the different things that we could do to improve the energy efficiency of our house, and also which of those are going to have the most impact and best cost/benefit trade-off. Thanks again, this is really going to help us get our energy use lower."

To find out more, please checkout this link

April 2018
The Residential Efficiency Scorecard was commercially launched on 16 April which means accredited assessors can provide the service. Previously, the service could only be provided by accredited Not-for-Profit organisations. If you would like to find out more, visit our webpage:

March 2018
ATTMA has become a Patron Member of Passivhaus Trust, the UK Passive House Association.

More and more people are realising that Passivhaus principles are important, even essential for achieving a better and sustainable building.
Even if you think it is too difficult, and do not intend to commit to the "passivhaus" building standard, your building (office, factory, school, home,...etc) can benefit from at least considering and imlementing some of the principles and ideas.

A great event to see and learn about the latest and greatest in Air Con, Refrigeration, Building Services and related products & services.
We had a great experience at ARBS 2016 in Melbourne and are sure that you'd enjoy learning lots at this years event in Sydney.

Feb 2018
There's  new projects underway called "Nightingale" in Melbourne's north (and expanding!) which is likely to redefine what good housing design and function really is for Australia.  The ideas, innovations and results that these projects will bring will show what can and must be achieved if we are at all sincere about improving our world.

NCC Draft Docs
The Australian Building Codes Board has released for public comment a proposed updates to NCC documents.
The ammendments includes options in the for Airtightness Testing of buildings to gain compliance. 

This is a landmark moment for Construction in Australia
  • a chance to significantly lift the; standard, quality, efficiency and comfort of homes, workplaces, institutions, public buildings and facilities.
  • a chance to significantly reduce our carbon footprint going forward.
  • a chance for a healthier Built Environment.
  • a chance to "Lift our game" and get on board to building a better and environmentally sustainable future.
Our buildings must get better - the sooner we start, the better.

One way to locate some of the airtightness related ammendments is to do a "Find" (ie. control F) for "9972" (the ISO standard on testing).

Draft NCC's
June 2017
Wanting to improve your building's performance in terms of energy, water or waste, but concerned about the financing of such works?

An initiative from the:
to help building owners in improving the efficiency of their buildings.

"Environmental Upgrade Finance

smart finance for better buildings"

"A new and growing form of finance provided by major financiers in Australia for upgrading commercial and other buildings, reducing operating costs and improving energy, waste, water or energy efficiency or increasing renewable energy."

March 2017
Passive House (Passivhaus or PH) is not limited to 'houses,' it is applicable to almost any building.
Commercial buildings designed and built according to passive house principles can achieve extrordinary gains in energy efficiency.

A new study funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for high rise buildings has been released. Titled, "Feasibility of Implementing the PASSIVHAUS STANDARD for Tall Residential Buildings" the aim of this study was to quantify the benefits of applying PH principles to commercial multi level buildings.

"... Passivhaus is a standard for energy efficient buildings that results in energy reductions for heating and cooling of approximately 70%-90% compared to typical buildings   ........"

"....Additional construction costs are estimated to be less than 2.5%............."
".........these results also suggest that Passivhaus is broadly applicable to cities in many climates.........."

In years to come, it is likely that the efforts of today's "standard" builds will be heavily criticised and their economic viablility come into question.

GBCA Carbon Neutral
GBCA is seeking input on achieving “carbon neutral” built environment via a 26 page discussionpaper entitled, "A Carbon Positive Roadmap for the Built Environment."
You can view their webinar here: GBCA Carbon Positive
You can read more on it and access the discussion paper to provide your input here: Roadmap
Input due by 22 May 2017

March 2017
AIRAH has called for "Abstracts" for its upcoming  2 day conference "The Future of HVAC 2017" in Sydney during the comining September.
Have you got ideas or topics for a presentation to improving HVAC and buildings in general?
Don't be shy now!

December 2016
The Green Building Council of Australia is calling for input into a "minor update" for Design and As-Built Interiors, and is looking to include Airtightness Testing as a requirement in "Commisssioning & Tuning."
This in-between update may be the last before a bigger revamp.

March 2016

3ARK in action over three days at ARBS 2016 in Melbourne - a premier industry event for Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Buiding Services.

We had the privilege of talking to many interesting people about the impacts of  Airtightness on improving the energy performance and liveability of buildings and Thermography applications.

September 2015
Australia and New Zealand took a significant step and joined the ranks of countries that are striving to improve the energy efficiency of buildings with the adoption of a new standard.  Released on 1st Sept. 2015, the new ISO standard covers how the testing of buildings (including domestic dwellings) should be performed.

AS/NZS ISO 9972:2015    Thermal performance of buildings - Determination of air permeability of buildings - Fan pressurization method.

This new Standard will help make the benefits and practice of testing the airtightness of buildings to become more uniform and more appreciated.

Airtightness - old news
The knowledge and practice of specific airtightness testing to confirm how well built a building is has been around for some decades. Before that - people in colder climes used their own senses (sight and feel) to locate drafts and trace them back to the gaps that the air was coming through.
They did this because they were 'taught' essential life lessons from good builders, neighbours and their parents - building upon the collective knowledge of the cummunity.
In this country it has been spoken and written about for quite a while too - but not many people are noticing or understanding what is really a crucial element for comfort, efficiency and sustainability.
In Australia various government departments have conducted excellent research which unfortunately often goes noticed. For example - this report from 2013...

This document describes the value of conducting additional assessments/inspections to determine that a dwelling really is built to a decent standard - and not just "presumed" to be good.
Two such additional steps being:
  1. Blower door (Fan Door) test to determine the air leakage rate and provide proof of quality.
  2. Thermography inspection of insulation to identify any significant omissions and provide proof of quality.

Essentially, in terms of airtightness of dwellings  - a good home is one where there are no unnecessary air leaks.
Unnecessary air leaks come in many forms, but in general they occur where different elements or materials come together - ie. seams.  
Some examples:
  • Brick wall meets plaster wall,
  • Timber lining meets plaster board.
  • Window reveal meets architrave
  • Door meets door jamb
These and many more are probable air leakage points that are "unintentional."

Would a Designer or Architect specify items such as:
  • ensure a 1mm gap between architrave and plasterboard
  • provide for fresh air circulation via the cavity of the cavity sliding door
  • do not seal internal brick feature wall at edges
Not very likely - but such energy draining issues are often what is delivered to the home owner.

There is an extensive document that the Australian Government publishes called
You can see much of it via the website, or if you're really keen you can buy the hardcopy book.

Well worth a read of specific sections to help you to:
- Know what to talk to your Builder about
- Understand what good practice is
- Learn about various options and methods of building
.....lots more.

Pretty soon after you scratch the surface of 'how to build an efficient building' you will encounter Airtightness and Insulation as key points. You will benefit greatly from ensuring that these points are well executed.

Construction Industry bodies too have great free resources available.
eg. The Master Builders Association Vic has some excellent information available to you on Insulation.  How to maximise the value of Insulation

Insulation is difficult to get right and really difficult to keep it right. It is all too easy for people to mess up the good work that the Installers might do.

It is very common for home owners or other tradespersons move or disturb the insulation  which severely affects its insulative properties. It does not take much for the effective insulation "R" to be halved or worse.

Air Leakage – X File Case 23
Visible gaps in your building envelope (external walls, ceiling, and floor), such as typical ones around your front door can be seen as well as heard and felt on windy days. But what about the ones you can’t see?
The sliding door, a great space saver in a home, is one of those invisible ones. 
Using a blower door creates a pressure difference between the inside of the building and outside, thereby exacerbating any air-leakage areas in the building envelope. A recent inspection for a new home buyer, concerned about unintended air-leakage, revealed a particular leaky sliding door cavity. Turning our fan on caused the door to slam close on its own, such was the amount of air-leakage in the cavity. This means it was open to the ‘outside’; drawing in hot air on a summers day and providing a “chimney effect” during winter, sucking out your heated air which burns additional energy dollars. 
Designing, Building, or Buying a new home?
Make airtightness a requirement and get an airtightness test done to verify the performance of your prized home. It’s the only way to prove the constructed home performs as your design intended. Otherwise, all those great energy efficiency features are less effective due to unintended air-leakage.

Most people have heard about LED lights and the energy they save compared to halogen downlights. But what about other types of house globes? Chances are your ‘old’ incandescent globes are a minimal or non-existing quantity these days, having blown a while ago. What did you replace those with? If you went with a mains voltage halogen globe, did you know an LED version uses ~ 80% less power? The link below provides a comparison between different globe types and is worth a look next time you need a replacement globe.


Insulation - "Missing"

Construction Industry bodies have great free resources available on many topics.
eg. The Master Builders Association Vic has some excellent information available to you on Insulation.  How to maximise the value of Insulation

Insulation is usually difficult to get right, and really difficult to keep it right. It is all too easy for people to mess up the good work that the Insulation Installers might do. It is worth you taking a look after anyone has had to go into the roof space, and see that the insulation has not been left out of place.

The infrared image above shows the ceiling in a new home, taken on a hot day. The warm colours indicate missing or misapplied insulation. It is very common for home owners or other tradespersons to move or disturb the insulation which then severely affects its insulative properties - and it does not take much at all for the effective insulation "R" value to be halved or worse.

The infrared image above shows the ceiling in a new home, taken on a hot day. The warm colours indicate missing or misapplied insulation. 

You may not know that the effect of missing/ misapplied insulation is non-linear. 
eg. an R4 insulated ceiling that has 5% missing reduces effective insulation to ~ R2.3. And if 10% is missing, the effective R value drops to ~ R1.6.
In order to get close to its stated R value insulation must be; properly placed, well seated, continuous and without gaps.
Compromised insulation = less comfort & likely increased heating/cooling loads

A reduced effective R-value means it will cost more to heat (or cool) your home; so, it is important to ensure your ceiling is properly 'covered.'

You can do a visual inspection by getting into the roof-space yourself (take care!), or engage a thermographer like 3ARK to assess your home. 

Air-leakage in the home.

7 Apr 2018
Now the change of season has arrived in Vic, people are firing up pilot lights on the gas heaters or changing from snow flake to sun on their reverse cycle unit. Something worth considering is draught-proofing your home. As you will be using heating energy more hours per day, the less you let escape through the building envelope, the less energy you use. Hence, better for your hip pocket and the environment (reduced carbon footprint). 

An ‘unseen’ air-leak in your home is the common place exhaust fan. You’ll find them in the bathroom, laundry and sometimes the kitchen. If you are in an older home, your exhaust fan is likely an original, and will not have a draught preventer. This means air-leakage is occurring every minute of the day and night. As they are usually in the ceiling, you have a mini chimney effect happening in your home. In Winter, your heated air is rising and doing an Elvis (just left the building . . .). And in Summer, hot air pours in from the roof cavity into your home.

A simple fix is to retrofit a draught preventer. The one shown below is ~$35, from a hardware store, easily assembled and fitted over the top of the exhaust fan. Once fitted, you’ll be amazed at the improvement in comfort in your room, and know you’ve stopped burning cash as your heated air is staying in your home.
And if you’re in a newish home, you may be lucky and have exhaust fans with an integrated damper, that does the same as the above. The only way to know is to remove the fan cover and have a look. 

If you’d like to find out more about making your home more energy efficient, contact us on 1300 360 673

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage says:
"The structure of buildings influence energy consumption of HVAC equipment and components. The thermal performance of a building facade, air leakage and internal electrical loads within a building will affect the operation and performance of HVAC systems. Energy wastage can be built into the design and construction phase of buildings......       
This wastage is often masked by the HVAC system itself,........but at a higher energy cost."

The Australia Building Codes Board says:
"Energy used in buildings accounts for almost 27% of all energy related Green House Gas emissions."

The Department of Commerce of the Government of Western Australia documents some terms applied to unexplained illness or symptoms exhibited by workers in Australian workplaces - typically offices:
           SBS - Sick Building Syndrome
           BRI  - Building Related Illness
The corrective actions for such buildings typically focus on ventilation issues.
The Green Building Council of Australia   has an "Innovation Challenge" initiative which provides for awarding of Green Star points for conducting airtightness testing on buildings:
  • 1 point is awarded where whole building airtightness testing is carried out in accordance with a recognised industry standard.
  • 2 points are awarded where whole building airtightness testing is carried out in accordance with a recognised industry standard and the results demonstrate the achievement of a ‘best practice’ outcome.
At the following GBCA link, scroll down to the table titled "Current Innovation Challenges" and then select "Building Air Tightness" to find out more...

From the NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage - HVAC Optimisation guide July 2015:   
"Where is energy wasted?
The structure of buildings influence energy consumption of HVAC equipment and components. The thermal performance of a building’s facade, air leakage and internal electrical loads within a building will affect the operation and performance of HVAC systems.
Energy wastage can be built into the design and construction phase of buildings. Minor alterations during operation, made to provide a quick fix for compliance or equipment problems, can accumulate to contribute to energy waste.
This wastage is often masked by the HVAC system itself, which continues to provide adequate comfort to occupants, but at a higher energy cost."

Australian House Survey - Star Ratings for dwellings.
“Pressure testing was also conducted in 20 houses in Melbourne . . . . Only one house achieved a result below 10 m3/hr at 50 Pa which is considered to be good sealing. Around half the houses achieved close to 15 m3/hr at 50 Pa, or average sealing. Of concern are the 20 per cent of houses that exceeded 30 m3/hr at 50 Pa . . .”

* Source: CSIRO study in 2012 of 400 detached houses in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne - as reported in HVAC&R Nation magazine Feb 2015 article “Open House.”

Examples of Thermography

Fan Door equipment examples:
Time Lapse and IR Video examples :


Watching machinery in action can reveal potential issues that a still picture might miss.

Download File

Time Lapse images of PC motherboard start up

Download File

Video of house ceiling insulation gaps.

Download File