Standards Australia has published a new standard for commercial building energy audits, which recommends audits be undertaken every three to five years, or following major changes, and include suggestions for improvements to energy performance based on a financial analysis.

Two other energy audit standards have also been released for industrial and related activities, and for transport-related activities.

The new standards replace AS/NZS 3598:2000, Energy audits, and aim to assist asset owners, facilities managers and those operating in the audit space to develop a benchmarked framework for energy audits and energy management and efficiency activities, including potential improvements.

AS/NZS 3598.1, Energy audits, Part 1: Commercial buildings sets out requirements for energy auditors and provides guidance on the role of the client in the energy audit process. It can also be used as a reference document for effective energy management in commercial buildings.

“These important energy audit documents are designed to allow organisations to better assess the energy performance of their activities,” Standards Australia chief executive Dr Bronwyn Evans said.

Members of the Standards Australia EN-001 technical committee for energy auditing, which developed the documents, include Consult Australia, the Energy Efficiency Council, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sustainability Victoria, Office of Environment and Heritage NSW, and the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Airconditioning and Heating.

“It was important to seek and attain consensus amongst stakeholders for these updated documents and I’m pleased that our committee was able to achieve this,” chair of the technical committee Albert Dessi said.

“The documents represent a standard system which makes undertaking energy audits more efficient and effective, enabling better energy performance.”

Consult Australia welcomed the changes. Technical committee representative Chris Suttor said goal of the revised standard was outcome-focused, targeting increased implementation of cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities.

“The original standard was heavily focused on the buildings space,” he said. “Introduction of the two new standards (for industrial and transport activities) provides increased coverage, aiding the relevance and uptake of energy audits within these sectors. Additionally, improvements to the standards structure, more rigour around audit outputs and auditor competencies, as well as the addition of guidance material, are all big steps to improving the quality of energy audits being delivered.”

Commercial building audits

The standard recommends energy audits be undertaken ever three to five years, or when there have been major changes such as a change to use of the space, upgrades or refurbishments, substantial changes in energy costs or availability, or proposed and recent changes in technology.

It also specifies that an energy audit carried out to meet the requirements of the standard will include suggestions for improvements to energy performance based on a financial analysis appropriate for the type of audit.

Three types of audit are covered by the standard:

Type 1 audits are suitable for smaller sites or for scoping audits for larger sites. They provide a quantitative overview of energy performance and identify low-cost or no-cost measures that have a payback period of up to two years.

Type 2 audits provide a detailed analysis to quantify the full range of opportunities for a site, and include a comprehensive review of all a building’s equipment, systems and operational characteristics. They are also required to provide a financial analysis of recommended energy performance improvement actions based on agreed financial criteria to rank the proposed activities.

Type 3 audits are detailed audits of specific subsystems, such as HVAC, lighting or building management systems. These audits involve on-site monitoring over a period that will give sufficient data to capture the various operational variables in order to quantify the business case for energy savings measures.

The standard sets out a comprehensive methodology for calculating the financial aspects of an energy efficiency improvement activity, and also a clear strategic outline of how the client and auditor should approach the task, from initial meetings through to final reporting.