A guide to BEECs and the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Program

July 4, 2023

In recent years, where sustainability has emerged as a pressing concern, the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program has gained significant attention and importance as a key driver for energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country. In this article, we will explore the program's origins, its requirements, the concept of Building Energy Efficiency Certificates (BEECs), and the necessary steps to comply with the CBD program.

What is the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program?

The CBD Program is an Australian government initiative designed to improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. It aims to provide transparency and promote the adoption of energy-efficient practices in the commercial property sector. The scheme requires most sellers and lessors of office spaces of 1000 square metres or more to obtain a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) before the building goes on the market for sale, lease or sublease. 

What are the key drivers behind the program?

The CBD Program is driven by several key factors, including:

  • Energy efficiency and climate change mitigation: One of the primary drivers is the need to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings to combat climate change. The program aims to encourage commercial property owners to adopt energy-efficient practices, thereby reducing the environmental impact of the built environment.
  • Market transformation: The CBD Program seeks to drive market transformation by creating awareness and promoting energy efficiency as a key consideration in the commercial property sector. The program makes it easier for prospective tenants and buyers to buy or rent more energy efficient office space as it provides consistent and meaningful information about a building’s energy efficiency performance. 
  • Lower operating costs: Energy-efficient buildings can significantly reduce operational costs by lowering energy consumption. The CBD Program aims to help commercial property owners realise the financial benefits of energy efficiency improvements, such as reduced utility bills and increased market value. 
  • Improved marketability and reputation: Energy efficiency has become a competitive advantage in the commercial property market. Buildings with high NABERS ratings and energy-efficient features are seen as more attractive to potential tenants and buyers. The CBD Program encourages property owners to improve the energy performance of their buildings to maintain competitiveness, enhance their reputation, and differentiate themselves in the market.

What are the program requirements?

Under the CBD Program, commercial property owners are required to disclose the energy efficiency of their buildings by obtaining and registering a BEEC before selling, leasing, or subleasing the property. BEECs must also be publicly accessible on the Building Energy Efficiency Register.

Additionally, the building’s NABERS Energy star rating (from the BEEC), must be included in any advertising material for the sale, lease or sublease of the building or office space.

What is a BEEC?

A BEEC provides information about the energy efficiency of a commercial building, and comprises two key elements: 

  • The NABERS Energy Rating: The NABERS Energy is an assessment of the energy efficiency performance of a commercial building. It measures the energy consumption and efficiency of the building’s operations, including heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting systems. The rating is given on a scale of 0 to 6 stars.

For more information on NABERS ratings, check out our blog: “Everything you ever wanted to know about NABERS Ratings

  • The Tenancy Lighting Assessment (TLA): The TLA component of the BEEC focuses specifically on the lighting systems within individual leased spaces of the commercial building. It assesses the energy efficiency of the lighting installations, including the type of lighting fixtures, control systems and their energy consumption.

BEECs are valid for up to 12 months, and are publicly accessible on the Building Energy Efficiency Register.

How do I get a BEEC?

To obtain a BEEC, you need to engage a CBD accredited assessor to undertake the necessary assessments and calculations to determine the NABERS Energy rating and perform the Tenancy Lighting Assessment. You can find a CBD accredited assessor at the CBD website.

What buildings are affected by the CBD program?

The CBD Scheme applies to buildings that fall under the following criteria:

  • Are greater than 1000 square metres
  • Are used for administrative, clerical, professional or other information-based activities; and 
  • Are for sale, lease or sublease

Are there any exemptions?

Buildings which fall under the following criteria are exempt from complying with the CBD program requirements:

  • New buildings, where a certificate of occupancy has either not been issued yet or was issued less than 2 years earlier
  • Buildings which have completed a major refurbishment for which a certificate of occupancy was issued less than two years earlier
  • Strata-titled buildings
  • Mixed use buildings where total office space comprises less than 75% of the building (by NLA)

In the case where obtaining a TLA or a NABERS Energy rating for a building is not possible, owners can apply to the Secretary of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Waters for an exemption. The fee for applying for an exemption in this case is $451.

What are the steps to comply with the CBD program?

Here is an outline of the steps that commercial property owners should take to comply with the CBD program requirements:

  1. Determine if the building, or area of the building is affected. 
  2. Check if the building already has a current BEEC that covers the area available for sale, lease or sublease. If it does, no further action is required. 
  3. If the building does not have a current BEEC, engage a CBD accredited assessor to complete the required assessments and apply for a BEEC.
  4. Provide the assessor with the required access to, and information about the building.
  5. Ensure the assessor submits the BEEC application to the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Waters online via the CBD assessor portal.
  6. Once the BEEC is emailed to the assessor and is uploaded on the Building Energy Efficiency Register, you are compliant.
  7. Ensure the NABERS Energy rating is included in any advertising of the building, and that the BEEC is provided to prospective buyers and tenants if requested.

Where does building analytics come in?

The use of building analytics software, such as CIM's innovative PEAK Platform, can significantly contribute to commercial property owners achieving a higher NABERS Energy rating, thereby enhancing their BEEC. 

The PEAK Platform empowers property owners with real-time monitoring, data analysis, and insights into their building's energy performance. By leveraging advanced analytics algorithms and machine learning capabilities, the platform can identify energy-saving opportunities, optimise HVAC systems, lighting controls, and other energy-consuming components, and provide actionable recommendations for efficiency improvements.

With PEAK, commercial property owners can precisely track and measure energy consumption patterns, identify areas of excessive energy usage or inefficiencies, and implement targeted strategies to address them. By proactively managing and optimising their building's energy performance, owners can achieve substantial energy savings and operational cost reductions.

These energy savings contribute to a higher NABERS Energy rating, which serves as a strong selling point and differentiator in the competitive commercial property market. Prospective tenants or buyers prioritise energy efficiency and sustainability, making properties with higher NABERS ratings more appealing and sought-after. So, by investing in building analytics software, property owners can unlock the full potential of their buildings, maximise energy efficiency, and position themselves as leaders in sustainable building practices.

Interested in boosting your sustainability performance?

Antonious Mickaeal
July 4, 2023