1 March 2012- New Zealand is poised to make a decision that will steer the future of its sustainable property industry as it starts the interview process next week to determine who will run its adoption of Australia’s NABERS rating tool.

But although the position is open to private and government agencies alike, some Australian industry insiders say that the reason the Australian system has been so successful is because it has been run by a government agency.

This ensures that the scheme is not only free from conflicts of interest but is perceived to be so, one source said.

“One of the successes of NABERS is because it’s been government controlled people have perceived that it’s not influenced by commercial interests,” one source said.
“The perception is that the focus from NABERS has been on what it should be about – that this has been purer than if had been driven by an industry group.”

The occasional conflicts faced by the Green Building Council of Australia, which is an industry body, have stemmed from industry pressure, he said. The GBCA is a fully industry controlled organisation.

“The GBC have flexed their muscle now and then but it’s much harder for the GBCA to retain that separation than it is for a government body.”

Tenders for the administration of the tool were recently called by the The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

An EECA source declined to comment on timelines for decisions or on any part of the tender process.

According to the tender documents, however, “The EECA has decided to introduce the National Australian Built Environment Rating System to New Zealand, following the findings of the concept report, EECA consultation with the commercial buildings sector and a BERS request for proposal process in June 2010.”

So far the tool will be for energy only. “NABERS for wider green aspects (such as water) and building types (such as hotels) will be discussed with stakeholders as part of the wider programme introduction process, and as funding becomes available,” the document says.
The licence for NABERS from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage will run for five years with a five year option.

Key functions of the NZ NABERS administrator will be to:

  • Manage the day-to-day operation of NABERS Office Energy in New Zealand
  • Train, accredit and contract external NZ NABERS
  • Audit and certify each NZ NABERS rating
  • Contract suitably qualified NZ NABERS auditors (to conduct in-depth audits) and
  • Through its activities, promote/market NZ NABERS to the sector
  • Monitor NZ NABERS activity and report uptake and financial activity to EECA quarterly
  • Oversee NZ NABERS delivery and report any instances of brand misuse to EECA
  • Contribute to the effective delivery of NZ NABERS as a member of both a governance and technical advisory group.

OEH has agreed to provide “a staff resource, funded by EECA, during the establishment phase to assist the administrator to implement the NABERS business model, operate the NABERS technical engine and software, apply NABERS methodologies and establish policies, procedures and back office support systems for the administration of NZ NABERS.”

A decision is expected to be made by April and the program implemented by September.