Sydney aerial shot sunset
Photo: Seb Zurcher

New office developments and retrofits in the City of Sydney will have to target a base building rating of 5.5 star NABERS, under proposed changes to the council’s development control plan.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the council had had excellent results with the top tier landlords through programs such as the Better Buildings Partnership, and now wanted to see those results replicated in the “next tier”.

“The changes we’re proposing would set a new standard for modern commercial buildings,” Ms Moore said.

“By setting a new standard of a 5.5 star NABERS rating, we’ll see energy efficiency and renewable energy considered early in the design phase – rather than being treated as an afterthought – ensuring building owners and tenants save thousands on electricity bills.”

Application for new developments and major office upgrades with net lettable area of 1000 square metres or more will need to submit a NABERS commitment agreement confirming the building can reach 5.5 stars before a construction certificate is granted.

For alterations, additions and refurbishments, there would be exclusions where the upgrade could affect heritage or if the costs are deemed “unreasonable” compared to the overall cost of works.

The council said the move was inline with state government policy, including its net zero 2050 target, and the Greater Sydney Commission’s Greater Sydney Region Plan and Eastern City District Plan.

The plan has been welcomed by the Energy Efficiency Council.

Its chief executive Luke Menzel said improving building efficiency was the quickest and cheapest way to cut emissions.

“How we design, construct and operate our buildings drives the amount of energy needed to keep the lights on and the building comfortable,” Mr Menzel said.

“A poor performing building means higher energy bills for tenants and a big impact on the environment. City of Sydney is showing national leadership by setting a new minimum standard for new buildings. Over time that will cut emissions and lower energy bills for businesses across the CBD.”

Waste upgrades

The proposed DCP amendment also includes major changes to waste collection systems in new commercial developments, including more space required in bin rooms for waste separation, designated food waste storage areas in food preparation areas and separate areas for bulky and problem wastes such as textiles and e-waste.

“Our long-term targets for net zero emissions by 2050 and zero waste to landfill can only be achieved by changing the way buildings are designed, built and operated,” Ms Moore said.

The proposed amendments are currently being exhibited with submissions closing 28 May.

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  1. I am wondering if NABERS rating could include Developers and Building Owners providing tenants, visitors and public visiting such buildings with FREE water?
    The cost of providing a go2zone (or similar) would be minuscule. The convenience, value to consumers and the positive effect on our environment (due to the reduction of single use plastic water bottles0 would be enormous and ongoing.
    We invite you to join the #refillrevolution!