FR5 Software

FirstRate5® house energy rating software

FirstRate5® is an easy-to-use interactive tool with a graphic user interface that enables designers and thermal performance assessors to generate energy ratings for a home by tracing over floor plans. The software integrates the AccuRate calculation engine to estimate the annual heating and cooling energy and can be used to rate an existing design or as an interactive tool to optimise the design beyond compliance.

July 2013

Summary:

In 2013, Sustainability Victoria undertook consultation with FirstRate5® users, thermal performance assessors and industry bodies in Victoria and nationally to gather feedback on proposed changes to the FirstRate5 licensing model and fee structure. As part of the consultation, a number of user forums were held in July 2013 to provide information about the new licencing model, gather user feedback, and discuss upcoming feature enhancements for FirstRate5. The user feedback has informed the development of the new website www.fr5.com.au as well as future software enhancements.

The answers to key user questions raised in the forums have been captured in the Frequently Asked Questions.

A summary of the key discussions and themes from the forums is described below:

Licensing model options

Research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics in November 2012 showed financial modelling of moving FirstRate5 to a range of different licensing options including an annual licensing model and an online service model. The existing licencing model does not recover the ongoing costs of bug fixing, software enhancement and compliance with NatHERS updates, which in turn affects the further development of the software.

Based on this research, a fee-per certificate licensing model was explored as the preferred option. This would involve retaining the existing software as a desktop based application, with an online component for certificate generation. Users would be charged a small fee in order to generate a certificate. The model would allow for improved technical support services, bug fixing and software enhancements for users. 

Functionality of the system

In moving to a fee per certificate system, theFirstRate5 software would be made available as a free download via a new Firstrate5 website (www.fr5.com.au). The website will primarily provide for the online generation of certificates. Furthermore, the website will act as a backup for uploaded project files and issued certificates.

Other proposed functionality changes include:

• The Diagnostic Report will replace the Feature Report and will still be available from the desktop software free of charge.

• The modelling software will still run on the user’s desktop and internet connectivity will only be required when updating the software or obtaining a certificate through the new FirstRate5 website. Compliance certificates will be generated by uploading a project file to the website and purchasing credits which can then be exchanged for a certificate.

• The credits can be purchased by credit card or PayPal.

• The certificates will be saved as a .pdf file and emailed to the account holder for printing at any time.

• Each certificate will have a unique QR (or Quick Response) code that will enable building surveyors, clients and home owners to authenticate a hard copy with the version issued by the website.

• From v5.1.10 onwards, newer versions of FR5 will install beside rather than overwrite previous versions of the software. In certain limited circumstances, users will be allowed produce a certificate using an earlier version of the software.

• FR5 account holders will be able to delegate permission to other account holders to upload and produce a certificate from their project files. This will allow a person other than the assessor pay the fee per certificate.

User cost

In moving to a new licensing model, the following transitional arrangements were discussed. Users felt it was important to have time to test the new model prior to any changes being introduced. 

• Up until the end of April 2014 certificates generated would not attract a fee. This would allow users to download and test the features of the new system without incurring any charges.
• From May 2014, the certificate charges would be applied and used to fund future bug fixes and feature enhancements to FirstRate5. The desktop component of the software will be released for download free of charge with no annual license fee. All fees will be re-evaluated annually.

Sustainability Victoria would like to thank all of the thermal performance assessors who took the time to attend a user forum and provide their feedback on the proposed changes to the FirstRate5 licensing model Feedback has been used to develop the new website www.fr5.com.au as well as future software enhancements.