Chapter 22 NABERS

What is a NABERS rating and what types of buildings does it cover?

Under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS), building owners and tenants are able to benchmark their greenhouse emissions performance. Buildings can be rated anywhere between 1 and 6 stars, with 6 stars representing exceptional greenhouse performance.

NABERS provides separate ratings for office buildings, office tenancies, hotels, shopping centres, data centres, public hospitals and homes. The DPIE is currently developing NABERS ratings for schools.

NABERS for office buildings incorporates NABERS Energy (incorporating the former ABGR Rating), NABERS Water, NABERS Waste and NABERS Indoor Environment.

NABERS for hotels, shopping centres and homes incorporates NABERS Energy and NABERS Water.

NABERS for public hospitals incorporates NABERS Energy and NABERS Water. A NABERS Waste rating is being developed. Unlike other NABERS ratings, NABERS for public hospitals operates through a direct relationship with state health departments in partnership with the Australasian Health Infrastructure Alliance. NABERS for data centres only covers NABERS Energy.

Whilst obtaining a NABERS rating is voluntary (unless selling or leasing an office space, in which case the Commercial Building Disclosure program may apply), some local councils have introduced the achievement of a NABERS rating as a condition of development consent, making it mandatory in those circumstances.

Many government departments and agencies have set minimum NABERS energy standards for the construction or leasing of new office accommodation. For example, the Commonwealth has stipulated that new government buildings must achieve a 4.5 star NABERS energy rating and be of sustainable design.

How to obtain a NABERS rating

The process for obtaining a rating under NABERS varies for existing buildings versus a new or refurbished building. However, in all cases it is necessary to compile data over a 12-month period regarding the relevant environmental impact of the building or tenancy over that period.

To obtain an accredited rating for an existing building, a trained accredited assessor will then analyse the data collected against a validation protocol and certify the rating obtained.

For new buildings, it is necessary to enter into a Commitment Agreement with the DPIE. The Commitment Agreement specifies the rating that is to be obtained, which has to be 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5 or 6 stars. Once the building is built or refurbished, then the same process will apply as for an existing building.

Why is certification important?

The right to promote a NABERS rating is dependent upon formal certification by an accredited assessor.

Most vendors or lessors of office space of 1,000 square metres or more are required to obtain, register and disclose a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) which includes a NABERS energy rating for the building. The NABERS rating must also be included in any advertisement for the sale, lease or sublease of the building, using the format prescribed. See the  Commercial Building Disclosure program.