call us

NABERS – Is It Working?


Evaluating NABERS

 In the twelve years since NABERS was introduced it has been demonstrated as highly successful system of evaluating the efficiency of Australia’s buildings in terms of water, material wastage, electricity, lighting and heating. It has received a surprisingly high level of enthusiastic support from industry, very little in the way of resistance and adoption across the board. It is seen massive uptake amongst those businesses where it is not a legal requirement (premises under 2000sqm).


Lessons Learnt From the Positives

 The success of the system has demonstrated that benchmarks of performance of green issues are feasible. It is also feasible that existing buildings – in many cases with minor modifications – can cut wastage with general awareness alone and quite considerably with even minor modifications to the fabric of a building. Time and time again, older buildings are recording 4.5 and upwards on the NABERS scale so this is not just limited to new builds that actively take account of the environment. This further demonstrates that it is a fair and just system that examines a wide range of criteria. It is not particularly difficult to acquire a 5.5 star rating with minor changes to facilities.

The role of government cannot be understated – the actions of government policy (discussed in previous articles) in actively searching for property with high NABERS ratings has encouraged businesses to participate in the standard. Building procurement – rental and sale – is a highly competitive market so once this precedent was set, widespread adoption would be almost inevitable.

Finally, it is generally accepted that the voluntary adoption of the standard by businesses for which it is not mandatory has had a positive impact on those businesses for which it is mandatory – they are desiring to stay ahead of the up and coming competition.


Lessons Learnt From the Drawbacks

 NABERS is not perfect – of course no system is and it is important for a new industry standard to learn lessons from its own drawbacks as it is from its successes. When there is no market driver (such as a lack of government interest or voluntary uptake) it can be difficult to encourage businesses to attempt to improve their ratings.

The nature of the geography of Australia has led to some concerns about the competitive advantage of cities and areas in more temperate climates ahead of those in the tropical areas (which use more air conditioning for example – leading to the perception that ratings in these areas will be lower with little they can do about it). Also, the enforcement of a national standard in the state-structure of Australia was a concern – and this had the most impact on the core office market that is at the heart of Ausnviro’s business. However, the variety of benchmarks means that it is working in practice and topography need not be a barrier in achieving a high rating.

As we go forward with NABERS, there is no doubt that obstacles will present themselves but it is working – businesses across the board are recording lower utility costs and reduced emissions of 40% or more.