NABERS Q&A

As NABERS is a fundamental part of Mandatory Disclosure the following gives an overview of the common ‘non technical questions’ we are regularly asked. The responses are concise and hopefully provide a useful source of information

What is NABERS?

NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) is a performance based rating system that measures an existing building’s overall environmental performance during operation. It is a national initiative managed by the NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change (DECC) and a voluntary performance based environmental rating system for existing office, shopping centers and hotel premises.

NABERS rates a building on the basis of its measured operational impacts on the environment.

The scheme benchmarks a building’s environmental performance on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 1 star being poor and 5 star showing excellence. A 3 star rating is currently considered best practice for Office Buildings.

NABERS Office is tailored for use by building owners, managers and building occupants with 3 types of rating

  1. Base Building (central services only) – Building owners and managers can report on those aspects of the environmental performance of the building that are in their control, for example landlord energy use (lifts, air conditioning, common area lighting and power).
  2. Tenancy  -  Building occupants can report on the environmental performance of the aspects of the building that they control (lighting and power in their tenancy).
  3. Whole Building  – A combination of both the above

 The NABERS rating tools generally consists of:

  • NABERS Energy
  • NABERS Indoor Environment
  • NABERS Waste
  • NABERS Water

 The most common used rating tools for Office are Energy and Water.

NABERS Hotel is for CBD type properties not resorts, it uses the same basic principles as NABERS Office but only the Energy and Water rating tools to provide the rating. It includes for all hotel based facilities excluding on site retail outlets.

NABERS Retail uses the same basic principles as NABERS Office but only the Energy and Water rating tools to provide the rating. It includes for all common area facilities in shopping centers above 15000 M2 Gross NLA that also have at least one major tenant. It excludes all on site non retail outlets and energy associated with lighting and power to individual tenants.

How does NABERS relate to other environmental ratings?
NABERS is unique and complements other environmental rating schemes available. For example Green Star rating systems developed by the Green Building Council of Australia are designed to assess the environmental ‘potential’ of buildings. These ratings establish how the premises will perform under ideal circumstances based on design information and management processes. The actual operational performance can only be determined from NABERS ratings.

Who manages NABERS?
Is a national initiative managed by the NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change (DECC). NABERS is available throughout Australia with accredited assessors available to perform accredited ratings in every state and territory.

Who can use NABERS?
NABERS provides property owners, occupants, investors and other stakeholders with a reliable and transparent method of assessing the environmental impacts of buildings in use.

NABERS can be used to define and set operational performance targets and measure and rate actual performance. Accredited ratings can be used to disclose and report on performance to interested parties (as with the imminent Mandatory Disclosure Act), establish commercial relationships for the monitoring and maintenance of performance targets, assist professional services to improve a rating and make decisions about priority actions or investment options.

Government agencies and councils may also be interested in the information that NABERS generates as a means of encouraging environmental improvement and providing incentives.

Why use NABERS?
The majority of environmental impacts from buildings is due to the operation of ‘existing buildings’ in the marketplace. Current rating systems in Australia and overseas are intended for use at the design and development stages i.e. Green Star, LEED and BREEAM. Whilst design is clearly of crucial importance, good design is no guarantee of sound environmental performance during operation.

It therefore makes sense to use a rating system that is specifically tailored for existing buildings, and that measures relevant impacts during the operational phase of buildings. NABERS provides a rating that a building owner/operator can reasonably assume responsibility for, rather than items that were decided possibly by another party many years ago and cannot be easily changed.

As NABERS is based on actual measured performance rather than on prescriptive design parameters, it is complementary to expert design tools and design-based rating systems.

How much will it cost and how long does certification last?
Each assessment and its associated fee is different for the respective property and will depend upon a number of variables i.e. type of property, time required on site, type of rating, level of information provided etc. Further to the assessment fee a separate rating application fee is required and payable to the Department of Environment and Climate Change. The rating application fee is currently set at approx $770.00 plus GST per NABERS Energy rating. City Switch discounts for the rating application fees may still be applicable for signatory tenancies which can offer a 50% discount for properties over 1000 M2

NABERS certification lasts for 12 months and is therefore re-assessed annually.

Can a NABERS application be declined?
Yes it can. NABERS accredited assessors work to a very strict validation protocol set by the Department of Environment & Climate Change. The rating requires a stringent set of procedures to be followed together with information to be provided by the building owners prior to a site assessment. For example, failure to furnish energy consumption data  for the nominated property etc will simply mean that a rating cannot proceed.

What information is required?
Your accredited assessor will advise what information is required. However, an example is:

  1. Confirmation in writing of NLA data from copies of certified drawings and measurements endorsed with a written statement that they were taken in accordance with the Property Council of Australia (PCA) Method of Measurement.
  2. Evidence of after hours air-conditioning requests for each defined functional space must be provided in writing.
  3. Energy consumption data for electricity (oil and gas if applicable) for the nominated property for the preceding 12 months, the most recent billing data must be no more than 3 months prior to the rating date. This information shall be provided only in the form of actual ‘energy bills or invoices’ from the energy suppliers.

How do you commence with a NABERS rating?
Contact a NABERS accredited assessor i.e. Apex Property Consulting. We would primarily recommend a ‘Preliminary NABERS Energy Assessment Report’ is considered to ascertain the viability of the NABERS formal rating and possibly establish cost effective areas to increase the rating prior to application.

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