The number of NABERS-rated buildings continues to increase along with the average star rating, according to the just-released 2013/14 NABERS report, and the Commercial Building Disclosure program – currently up for review – has been singled out as a major contributor to the shift towards sustainability.

The CBD program requires sellers and lessors of office space of 2000 square metres or more to obtain a NABERS Energy rating and tenancy lighting assessment before the building is offered for sale, lease or sublease.

The NABERS report showed that the number of office buildings with a NABERS Energy rating had tripled since CBD came into effect, from 379 in 2009/10 to 1260 in 2013/14, with the average star rating now 3.6 – a five per cent increase on last year.

Importantly, it was those property players who had previously thought little about sustainability that were now being forced to think about energy use.

“The CBD program captured segments of the office market that had previously had limited engagement in energy efficiency,” the report said.

“The 1413 buildings that obtained their first NABERS Energy rating since CBD was released have a different profile than the buildings that historically participated in the NABERS program. They are smaller in size, a greater proportion are outside capital city central business districts and they perform lower than the rest of the office market in terms of energy efficiency.”

These buildings, however, were rapidly catching up on their energy performance. The percentage of office floor area lower than four stars almost halved from 60 per cent of the total floor area rated in 2010/11 to 32 per cent in 2013/14.

The report showed that high NABERS ratings were seeing a boom, with buildings obtaining five stars or more increasing from 77 in 2010/11 to 264 in 2013/14.

While the NABERS stars are on the rise, carbon emissions and energy use are on the way down, with the 1208 office buildings that have had two or more NABERS ratings showing an on average decrease of 8.7 per cent in energy use and 11.5 per cent in carbon emissions since CBD was introduced. Almost half the buildings reduced energy use by 10 per cent or more, and 16 per cent had reductions of between 30 and 80 per cent.

“NABERS anticipates the trend of rapid improvement to continue under CBD and looks forward to measuring these efficiency gains as more and more buildings are rated multiple times,” the report said.

NABERS value proposition to strengthen

The report pointed to data from the quarterly IPD Australian Green Property Index that showed high NABERS rated buildings outperformed low rated buildings, with increases in rents, and reductions in operating expenses, capital expenditure and vacancy rates.

NABERS director Tom Grosskopf said the value proposition of the tool was expected to strengthen further with the NSW Government’s Resource Efficiency Policy, which stipulates minimum NABERS ratings for government assets, including for data centres.

See the full report.