NABERS Ratings: What it is, How it Works and How to Improve the NABERS Rating for your building

Introduction to NABERS Ratings

The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is an Australian rating system managed by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on behalf of the Federal, State and Territory governments. NABERS measures properties such as homes and commercial buildings’ all over the country (including offices, hotels, apartment buildings, hospitals  and data centres).

NABERS Rating is a simple, reliable sustainability rating for the built environment. Like the efficiency star ratings that you see on your fridge or washing machine, NABERS provides a rating from one to six stars for a building’s efficiency across:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste and
  • Indoor environment

Put simply, NABERS measures the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment.

“What gets measured gets managed” – is one of the key principles NABERS wants businessowners to understand. These ratings are important as commercial buildings contribute to 40% of the world’s carbon emissions. In fact, 30% of the global potable water and 40% of the electricity from the grid are consumed by these buildings. Without these ratings, the impact of these buildings on climate change is significant.

How NABERS Ratings work

  • A NABERS rating helps you to accurately measure, understand, and communicate the environmental performance of your building while identifying areas for cost savings and future improvements.
  • During a 12-month period, a building’s performance and its impact on the environment is rated based on technical information – monthly electric and water bills, for example. A site’s energy use is multiplied by its emission factors (GHG) and adjusted based on its equipment’s operating hours, the area’s climate, and the building’s size and occupancy.
  • The data is then compared to a Benchmark Factor, which is basically the other sites within the area, and given an energy score between 1 to 6. A six-star (6 Stars) rating means that the commercial building has achieved a Market-Leading status, whilst a one-star (1 Star) rating means the site has significant room for improvement.
  • These ratings are meant to encourage all commercial site owners to commit to conserve energy and protect the environment. The caveat of all their efforts is money saved from being a green and sustainable Net Zero partner.

NABERS ratings

A High NABERS ratings can lead to premium earnings for commercial site operators and lower utility costs for tenants. Conversely, a low NABERS ratings means lower earnings for landlords and higher utility costs for tenants.”

“NABERS…Everybody needs good NABERS”

  • The NABERS rating system shows property owners how their management practices can impact the environment, compared to similar properties. NABERS rating tools helps building managers understand their site’s environmental performance and what solutions they can adopt to become energy efficient while reducing their carbon footprints. The increasing popularity and demand for Green Lease Agreements highlights the growing importance of NABERS Ratings and other sustainability performance indicators.

Benefits of NABERS Ratings

  • Benchmarking: Forms the basis of a robust sustainability strategy. They provide a fair benchmark for a building’s energy and water efficiency, enabling comparison across the industry. NABERS is helping more building owners and tenants to sharpen their focus on energy efficiency and speed up the transition to net zero emissions. It also helps building owners to understand their building’s performance versus other similar buildings, providing a benchmark for progress.
  • Independent validation of sustainability profile: NABERS provides cost-effective, high-trust, and independent validation of sustainability data, ensuring confidence in reporting it publicly and communicating it simply.
  • Annual ratings trackable and improved over time: NABERS star ratings are an essential framework for annual reporting and sustainability strategies. With annual ratings, performance improvements and reduced energy and emissions can be delivered over time.
  • Competitive edge: Having a building that has a lower environmental impact, lower running costs gives building owners a competitive advantage with prospective buyers, renters, procurement teams, or hotel guests.

Some additional benefits:

  • Provides a safe and healthy work environment for employees.
  • Buildings with ratings lower than four can still implement significant improvements to achieve their energy saving goals to increase their ratings.
  • Teaches property and building managers to identify cost-saving opportunities and allocate resources effectively to manage their sites’ environmental impact.
  • Allows for an independent, credible means of monitoring and verifying a building’s actual performance after implementing site improvements.

How can NABERS Ratings be improved?

NABERS Ratings can be improved by changing operational procedures and optimisation and/or upgrading of equipment.

Some examples of how NABERS Ratings can be improved include:

  • Install high-efficiency lighting and controls
  • Optimise/upgrade Boilers
  • Optimise/upgrade Chillers
    • Optimise/upgrade other components of the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system including Dampers, Air Handling Units and Supply Fans
  • Install Variable Speed Drives (VSD) on pumps and other mechanical equipment
  • Improve a building’s thermal insulation through building envelope modifications including heat reflective paint 
  • Optimise/upgrade Building Management System (BMS) including automation and setpoint adjustments to various systems
  • Improve quality of power supply/distribution through Power Factor Correction and Active Harmonic Filters
  • Utilise smart meters/sub-meters and energy monitoring software
  • Renewable energy generation and battery storage
  • Demand management

The key is not just about WHAT you do to improve NABERS rating, but HOW you go about making those improvements; specifically, your approach to procuring these vital energy efficiency upgrades is just as important.”

Partnering with the specialists in improving NABERS ratings

  • A NABERS Rating specialist can only assess the performance of a building. However, partnering with a single company that specialises in both assessing NABERS Ratings and providing holistic, end-to-end solutions to improve NABERS ratings is both cost effective and delivers best results.
  • A solutions provider like Ecosave can not only provide certified NABERS ratings but also manage and implement integrated services and upgrade solutions to improve your NABERS Rating over time. 
  • As an example,  3E Group helped the owner and property manager of a landmark building in Perth to improve the NABERS rating from Zero (< 1 Star) to 4 Stars as a result of energy efficiency upgrades and energy management solutions delivered through a funded 3E Group Service Agreement. The ESA carried a Guaranteed 4 Star NABERS Rating which has been successfully achieved and certified – click here to learn more.
From concept to completion, our team of engineers can sustainability experts partner with you to achieve not only your target rating, but also help achieve carbon neutrality or Net Zero ambitions. Click here to Connect with the specialists in improving NABERS Ratings and achieving Net Zero goals.



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