How to improve your NABERS rating: Practical strategies for commercial property owners

June 14, 2023

As the demand for environmentally conscious buildings in Australia continues to rise, commercial property owners must increasingly prioritise sustainability and demonstrate their efforts towards reducing their environmental impact. The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) plays a vital role in this movement, offering a comprehensive framework for assessing and benchmarking the environmental performance of commercial buildings. In this article, we explore the significance of the NABERS rating system for commercial property owners in Australia, and delve into the importance of having a good rating as well as practical strategies and insights to help you navigate the path towards a higher rating.

What is the NABERS rating system?

The NABERS rating system is a government initiative launched in 1998 by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. NABERS is a comprehensive framework used to evaluate and rate the environmental performance of commercial buildings across several key criteria, including energy efficiency, water usage, waste management, indoor environment quality, and greenhouse gas emissions.

By providing building owners with a transparent, reliable measure of a building’s environmental performance, the NABERS system enables property owners to identify areas for improvement, implement sustainable practices and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. It has become an important tool for promoting energy efficiency, reducing carbon footprints and driving sustainability in the commercial building sector in Australia.

What is a NABERS rating?

NABERS ratings are based on objective, performance-based assessments carried out by accredited assessors. These assessments involve analysing data on energy and water consumption, waste management practices, indoor environment quality parameters and greenhouse gas emissions. The assessors assign a rating from 0 to 6 stars, allowing property owners to compare their buildings’ environmental performance against others in the same sector and location.

A 6 star rating is not easy to achieve, as it indicates market leading performance and is awarded to buildings with half the greenhouse gas emissions of a 5-star rated building. Currently, there are currently only 249 buildings in Australia with a six-star rating. On the other hand, a 1 star rating means the building is performing well below average and has heavy scope for improvement. NABERS describes each star rating as follows:

6 stars - Market leading

5 stars - Excellent

4 stars - Good

3 stars - Average

2 stars - Below average

1 star - Making a start

For more information on how to obtain a NABERS rating, check out our article here.

Why is a high NABERS rating important?

With nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions coming from the built environment, it is becoming increasingly important for commercial property owners to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and take action to reduce their ecological footprint. Achieving a high NABERS rating is one way to do this, with a high rating yielding numerous benefits for property owners, investors and tenants, beyond the obvious improved environmental impact. Here is an overview of just some of the many benefits of having a high NABERS rating:

  • Reduced environmental impact: A good NABERS rating signifies that the building operates with greater energy efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced resource consumption, thereby contributing to environmental sustainability and combating climate change.
  • Reduced operating costs: NABERS focuses on energy efficiency, which directly translates into reduced operating costs and significant financial savings through lower energy consumption and utility bills.
  • Increased market value and rental income: A higher NABERS rating serves as a powerful marketing tool, attracting environmentally conscious tenants and investors who value sustainable practices.
  • Lower vacancy rates: A high NABERS rating can improve lease renewal rates and tenant satisfaction, as tenants are more likely to stay in a building that offers a healthy and energy-efficient working environment.
  • Environmental leadership: A high NABERS rating demonstrates a property owner's dedication to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. It showcases their efforts to minimise environmental impact and contribute positively to the community.

How do I improve my NABERS rating?

Here are some strategies to improve your NABERS rating:

  • Lighting upgrades: Replace traditional lighting with energy-efficient LED fixtures and consider implementing occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting to optimise lighting usage.
  • HVAC Systems: Regular maintenance or upgrades to energy-efficient models
  • Water fixtures: Install water-efficient fixtures such as low-flow taps and toilets. Implement water-saving devices like aerators and automatic shut-off valves.
  • Recycling and waste reduction: Implement comprehensive recycling programs and encourage tenants to separate recyclables. Establish waste reduction strategies such as composting, reusing materials, and minimising packaging waste.
  • Air quality: Ensure proper ventilation and air filtration systems to maintain good indoor air quality. Regularly inspect and clean air ducts and replace filters as needed.

Where does building analytics come in?

The use of building analytics software, such as CIM’s innovative PEAK Platform, can greatly assist building owners in improving their NABERS rating by providing valuable insights, data analysis and proactive management of building performance. Here are some ways in which building analytics software can contribute to a higher NABERS rating:

  • Real-time monitoring: PEAK continuously monitors and analyses energy consumption, water usage, indoor environment conditions and other key performance indicators. Its real-time data provides instant visibility into building performance, allowing owners to identify inefficiencies or building faults promptly.
  • Fault detection and diagnostics: PEAK automatically detects deviations from optimal performance and identifies equipment or system faults. By pinpointing issues such as malfunctioning equipment, inefficient operations or excessive energy use, building owners can quickly address them and make necessary improvements to optimise energy efficiency and performance.
  • Predictive maintenance: PEAK leverages advanced machine learning algorithms to predict equipment failures or performance degradation. This early detection enables proactive maintenance, which minimises downtime, reduces energy waste and contributes to a higher NABERS rating
  • Energy optimisation: By providing detailed insights into energy consumption patterns and resource usage, PEAK identifies areas of high consumption, peak demand periods and opportunities for optimisation. With this information, building owners can implement energy saving measures, such as load management strategies or equipment upgrades, to improve their NABERS rating

When it comes to helping our clients improve their NABERS ratings, our experience speaks for itself. CIM and the Kyko Group were able to increase the NABERS star rating by four stars in three years for their building at 99 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, which for Bill Jenkings, director of the Kyko Group, was an outstanding effort.

“In terms of the quantum reduction in energy consumption, CIM’s PEAK platform has exceeded our expectations,” Jenkings says. “At this site, energy consumption has been reduced by 15%. Our indicative NABERS rating was 1.5 stars on this building and we were targeting 4.5 stars and with CIM’s help, we were able to achieve 5.5 stars.”

For more information on how CIM helped the Kyko Group improve their NABERS rating, check out the 99 Elizabeth Street case study.

Interested in achieving a higher NABERS rating?

Our team of experts is here to help! Request a callback, and let's discuss how we can help you accelerate your progress towards a higher NABERS rating. 

Or, watch a demo session to gain a deeper understanding of the unique capabilities of the innovative PEAK Platform.

Antonious Mickaeal
June 14, 2023