23 November 2010 –The race to outperform on  sustainability is back on with today’s announcement that the NABERS Energy rating for office buildings would be “stretched” to six or even seven stars.

NABERS manager the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water today confirmed the move, which was  first flagged in The Fifth Estate on 23 October.

Combined with a parallel adjustment to ease the more onerous methodology that applies to Victorian buildings, the move could be expected to ease persistent criticism from some quarters of the property industry unhappy with aspects of NABERS.

DECCW acting built environment manager Mark Davis said a position paper to canvass industry views on extending the NABERS Energy for Offices rating scale to six or seven stars has been released today.

“I am very pleased to say the time has come to look at extending the NABERS Energy rating scale to accommodate the next generation of sustainable buildings,” Mr Davis said.

“When the NABERS Energy rating scale was created 10 years ago, we thought five stars was the best any building could be possibly be. It was an aspirational target.

“A decade on, technology and management practices in the property sector have improved greatly, helped by the reliability of NABERS as a measure.”

Mr Davis said about five per cent of buildings today achieved five star ratings and some developments were already targeting beyond five stars.

“As a result, DECCW is seeking industry and stakeholder input into the evolution of the NABERS Energy tool.”

Mr Davis said there were currently “no buildings that would achieve seven stars and perhaps eight around Australia that may reach beyond the existing five.”

He said one of the issues for the industry to consider was that  a seven-star benchmark may diminish the significant achievement of today’s commendable 4.5 or five star rating.

“However, introducing a seven star scale at this stage will mean that industry only has to contend with one change which establishes aspirational targets for zero-emission buildings and it will provide certainty to the marketplace for the long-term,” Mr Davis said.

Highlights of a media statement from DECCW said:

  • After 10 years in operation, NABERS is recognised as the industry standard in Australia and is regarded as a world leading rating system for building environmental performance that has driven the improvement that we see today.
  • The new “stretch goals” are being driven by both the industry and the NABERS national steering committee to ensure that NABERS continues to offer tools which drive and measure innovation. Any change will be implemented across the three types of NABERS Energy ratings for offices: base building, tenancy and whole building ratings.
  • To cater for future building technologies and the zero emission building, while limiting the impact on the tool’s existing markets, the position paper canvasses three options:
  1. Recalibrating the current five star rating scale and extend to six stars in early 2011
  2. introducing the seventh star in the future as needed
  3. Extend to seven stars in early 2011.
  • NABERS is seeking industry input on the proposed changes. A decision is planned by early 2011.
  • Copies of the position paper are available at the NABERS website www.nabers.com.au or by contacting DECCW on (02) 9995 5000. or here: NABERS Energy Extension Proposal – Position Paper
  • All comments must be received by DECCW no later than close of business 18 February 2011