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NABERS doing so well we might need another star

Mirvac's Sirius Building in the ACT scored a 6 Star NABERS rating without GreenPower.
Mirvac's Sirius Building in the ACT scored a 6 Star NABERS rating without GreenPower.

Average NABERS Energy ratings are getting so high, another star might soon need to be added to the scale, with 5 stars now run of the mill.

The just-released annual report of the building rating scheme shows the number of 6 Star NABERS office buildings has almost doubled, with 16 office buildings getting the highest honour, 10 without the help of GreenPower.

These buildings are:

  • Tower 3, 747 Collins Street, Docklands, VIC – CIMB TrustCapital Advisors (CIMB-TCA)
  • 3 Murray Rose Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW – Growthpoint Properties Australia
  • 5 Murray Rose Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW – Growthpoint Properties Australia
  • 171 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC – Cbus Property
  • Centrelink Lake Haven (3 Forrow Drive) NSW – Stirloch Developments
  • 321 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC – Invesco Australia
  • Bay Centre (65 Pirrama Road) Pyrmont, NSW – Mirvac Real Estate
  • 98-100 Blundell Boulevard, Tweed Heads South, NSW – Clarence Property Corporation
  • 199 Collins Street, Hobart, TAS – 199 Collins Street
  • Sirius Building (23 Furzer Street) Phillip, ACT – Mirvac Group

The average star rating rose to 4.4 (from 4.3), with almost a third of ratings (29 per cent) – 372 buildings – now 5 star or above.

“This is an exceptional result which demonstrates how mature this market has become, and just how many consultants, facilities managers and designers can now deliver buildings at this level,” NABERS national program manager Carlos Flores said.

However, he said there was a mismatch between expectations of what buildings could achieve and the reality, which could be seen in a lack of commitment agreements above 5 stars.

“At present, few new office buildings commit to NABERS Energy targets higher that 5 stars, even though 82 existing buildings have already reached 5.5 stars or higher. Perhaps our expectations of what is possible in new building energy efficiency has not kept up with the pace of change in the office sector.”

Distribution of office energy star ratings (without GreenPower)

Flores said the issue was 100 per cent cultural, and the challenge was to now help building designers realise that 5 star was easily achievable, and that in 2020 it would potentially not be state-of-the-art, or even in the top 20 per cent of buildings.

“The office sector in Australia has moved at an incredible speed over the past decade, and if we can move our expectations along with it, we could lift the bar even higher.”

Importantly, the program continued a trend of cutting carbon emissions and energy use in buildings covered by the program, with average carbon intensity down by 2.7 per cent, and average energy intensity down by 4.3 per cent.

Flores said the results showed that policy drivers like the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Program were working.

CBD program could see a drop in overall performance

However recent changes to the CBD legislation, bringing in buildings of 1000 square metres or more from 1 July (down from 2000 sq m) could have a dampening effect on the past steady rise of star ratings, and fall of carbon and energy intensity, as low performing offices whose owners have never had to publicise performance before now have to air their dirty laundry.

But once included in the scheme, there will be the impetus to improve performance, as those many buildings above 2000 sq m did when the program was first introduced – with average energy and carbon intensity decreasing with each subsequent rating.

Average reduction in energy use after multiple ratings.

According to Flores there’s already a number of 1000-2000 sq m offices that have already entered the system, which has seen an eight per cent increase in ratings.

Currently the NABERS program covers 81 per cent of all office net lettable area nationally.

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