The six star "NABERS for Apartment Buildings" rating system was officially launched in June 2018.
Assessments must be conducted by an accredited NABERS assessor and are expected to cost $1,160 each time + assessor fees. Some strata schemes are being offered a 50% discount by local councils to participate. However, not all strata schemes are advised to participate if they are not sure about the outcome.
Apartment buildings will be scored from one star to six stars. One star is poor, three stars is average and six stars is market leading. The 2011 Building Better Returns report demonstrated that a 5 star NABERS energy rating delivers a 9% premium in value and the 3-4.5 star NABERS energy ratings deliver a 2-3% premium in value.
If you're paying to get a NABERS assessment now, it makes sense to plan ahead for a high rating. Obtaining a high rating for your strata development requires good energy and water efficiency in common area facilities. Potential retrofits include upgrades to lighting, HVAC systems, pool pumps, hot water systems, sensors and building management systems. If you're not sure, take the NABERS Quiz to find out if you should engage a NABERS assessor. It may make sense to improve energy and water efficiency before you engage a formal assessment.
What's Involved in Getting Rated
To participate, strata schemes need to provide 12 months of utility bills for common areas, which can sometimes include multiple electricity, gas and water accounts. You will also need to sign a written agreement, provide strata plans, and facilitate a site visit by an assessor. Carparking plans, floorplans, technical drawings, strata management statements and detailed expense statements are desirable.
How it will work in apartment buildings:
The NABERS for Apartment Buildings rating is valid for one year. The process must be repeated annually at a minimum to review, update and validate the rating. Generally speaking energy and water efficiency improvements undertaken between assessments should increase the rating result.
Strata Managers Preparing for NABERS
NABERS for Apartment Buildings was recently featured at the strata industry conference SCA 'Power of Now' and by well known adventurer and environmentalist Tim Jarvis at the PICA Group conference. Strata managers including Strata Choice and Strata Plus, are also promoting NABERS for Apartments. Other strata managers are running training sessions for all their staff to understand the projects which can be run now so that their strata schemes have already scraped an extra ½ star or full-star when they get their first NABERS rating approved.
Our top ten points for Strata Managers preparing for NABERS
Strata managers are also working with property developers who are commissioning sustainability reports while the building is still a ‘hole in the ground’. Developers have been looking for up to a 9% uplift in property valuations while selling off the plan as a 'green building'. Well known green developments include The Commons, Nightingale, Central Park, Yarra Bend and Whitegum Valley. This is likely to accelerate as NABERS ratings for residential apartment developments become formalised in June.
Government Backing NABERS
The development of NABERS for Apartment Buildings has being jointly funded by state and federal governments, the COAG Energy Council, which initially contributed $400,000 for a pilot program in 2017. The project is part of the National Energy Productivity Plan’s 2030 targets to achieve a 40 per cent increase in energy productivity.
NABERS national program manager Carlos Flores said “The built environment contributes almost a quarter of Australia’s emissions, and residential apartments represent the fastest growing market in the built environment. We know bringing large-scale sustainability change to the apartment sector will be a major challenge, but one that government and industry can tackle if we work together.”
Figures from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), which administers the scheme, show the office sector is now saving more than $100 million a year in power bills compared to 2010 levels.
This has resulted in annual CO2 emissions savings of more than 635,000 tons, equivalent to taking more than 160,000 cars off the road. The OEH has been working with participants in the strata industry, including Wattblock, to develop the new NABERS for Apartment Buildings rating system.
City of Sydney chief executive Monica Barone said “We estimate 80 per cent of Sydneysiders will live in apartments by 2030 and these residents will demand higher environmental standards for their apartment buildings.” She commented that more than 600 of the City’s apartment buildings are six storeys and above. These will be among the first to benefit from the new NABERS tool.
The City of Melbourne is supporting the program with subsidies to rate an initial 20 apartment buildings in water and energy use efficiency.
According to Luke Menzel, CEO of the Energy Efficiency Council, “energy efficiency is now understood as more than just a cost-saving strategy; it’s a way to improve amenity, occupant health and leaseability, which has had a huge impact."
The Property Council of Australia has added its support for the tool, with CEO Ken Morrison saying it “reflects the property industry’s willingness to work with government on sensible and cost-effective measures which reduce emissions”.
For further reading try our NABERS white paper (PDF, 58 Pages) submission to the NSW Department of the Environment and Energy and prior articles, NABERS Disrupts Strata Energy Goldrush, The Strata NABERS Muster and Everybody Needs Good NABERS.
For more information on the NABERS for Apartment Buildings pilot program try CBD News, Fifth Estate and Sustainability Matters. You can also download the NABERS for Apartment Buildings brochure, and read more about How NABERS works and Research and Statistics.
Contributor, Strata Energy News
Strata managers can now register buildings in the City of Sydney and in Melbourne for a fully funded electric vehicle recharge assessment. Registrations for Brisbane have closed. However, if you're interested in learning more contact Scott Witheridge on (02) 9977 1801. Read more about the program here.
Strata Energy News
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Contact Editor: Ross McIntyre