NABERS real-world data offers meaningful benchmarks for building efficiency that can help inform leasing decisions.
NABERS is an internationally-recognised rating tool that has been used to measure the efficiency of buildings. First established in Australia in 1998, the initiative was initially rolled out on a national level, and continues to be managed by the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, on behalf of the Australian government.
NABERS has spawned international operations, and its rating system has been used to accredit thousands of buildings worldwide as part of schemes across Australasia, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and now the UK, following the launch of NABERS UK in November 2020.
Across its global schemes, NABERS ratings are used to assess a variety of built asset classes, including offices, shopping centres, hotels and data centres, certifying tenant occupied space, whole buildings, and base buildings (i.e. whole buildings minus any tenant occupied space).
This certification is concerned with “actual impact, not intent.” As such, NABERS ratings are only valid for one year, ensuring that accreditations are reflective of the current performance of a space.
The scope of NABERS assessments varies by region but, at its core, this rating tool is focused on measuring real-world data concerning building efficiency in relation to energy, water, waste and the indoor environment (air quality, lighting, thermal comfort, and acoustic qualities). These four areas of concern represent the four main categories of NABERS certifications.
Rating considerations and methods vary greatly across its diverse range of accreditations. However, all NABERS ratings are based on a combination of direct measurements; third party performance data, such as utility bills; findings from site visits, to ensure that all factors that are likely to influence resource consumption are taken in account and the participants’ supporting documentation.
Looking at NABERS UK’s Energy for Offices rating as an example, the energy efficiency of spaces is assessed in line with a framework built on the calculation of three components: rated area, rated hours, and minimum energy coverage.
- Rated area – the total relevant space that is being served
- Rated hours – the total number of hours per week in which a facility’s functional space is used, leveraging area-weighted averages
- Minimum energy coverage – the energy consumed in supplying central services
Calculations of these three considerations, taking into account a comprehensive range of complex factors for each, will ultimately generate a ratio reflecting how efficiently a facility consumes energy.
Across NABERS schemes, assessed facilities are awarded ratings of between one and six stars. The number of stars awarded to a participant is calculated by benchmarking the assessor’s findings and comparing results against those of other facilities in the same category.
NABERS attributes labels to its star ratings, indicating where premises rated at each level are positioned in comparison to peers in their category.
NABERS ratings add tangible value to assets, from a developer and investor perspective. Knight Frank research for the 2021 Active Capital report found that offices with NABERS Energy ratings of up to 4.5 stars are worth an average of 8% more than unrated buildings, on a per square metre basis. This premium jumps up to 18% among offices with five and six star ratings.
A distinguishing element of NABERS ratings is how, despite the application of weightings to figures to support the rulebooks’ models, they are determined by calculations of real-world data, as opposed to points being awarded by an assessor for meeting criteria. As such, within their own parameters, NABERS rating systems provide a rigid, quantitative means of understanding facilities’ relative efficiency in comparison to category peers. This gives a rated building’s green credentials credence, assuring occupiers that it will play a role in helping them achieve sustainability targets.
NABERS is also ahead of other rating systems providers with its Commitment Agreement offering. The organisation strikes up contracts with developers and asset owners, in which they commit to design, build and commission premises in a specific manner to ensure they reach the standards for a particular NABERS rating. Incorporating building modelling and independent design reviews, the process of the Commitment Agreement ensures that more facilities are capable of meeting and exceeding industry benchmarks, and creates a pipeline of eligible premises that, upon completion and the commencement of operations, will be assessed and rated.
This offering means that there is not only a strong supply of NABERS-rated premises in key occupier markets around the world, but it means that, with asset owners being granted full permission to promote their target rating (upon NABERS’s approval of the facility’s independent design review report), occupiers seeking new premises have the benefit of knowing what level of sustainability standards the owners of these facilities are working towards, and can make early and informed lease decisions accordingly.
NABERS ratings are a compelling offering. Focusing on real-world operational data, NABERS provides up-to-date and meaningful benchmarks for building efficiency. The organisation is launching more schemes internationally, increasing the breadth of ratings offerings available beyond Australia, and expanding its footprint of rated buildings. The NABERS standard is going to become an increasingly important accreditation to occupiers seeking facilities that both aid and supplement their sustainability strategies, helping them to improve their resource efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints.