The first office building has been verified using the NABERS UK Energy for Offices Scheme, with Toronto Square in Leeds, owned by Grosvenor, achieving a 4.5 Star Rating.

The NABERS UK scheme is also being extended to cover whole buildings and tenancies. These ratings complement the NABERS UK Base Building Ratings launched in November 2020, completing the suite of NABERS ratings for offices in the UK. 

NABERS is an Australian-pioneered rating system that’s been adapted for the United Kingdom and launched in November 2020, that measures the environmental performance of buildings and tenancies. 

It covers the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment.

Like the energy efficiency star ratings found on a fridge or washing machine, NABERS provides a rating from one to six stars for building efficiency – that’s actual impact, not intent.

Toronto Square was monitored for 12 months before being given its rating. 

Fully refurbished in 2009, Toronto Square, which also holds a BREEAM Excellent rating, provides Grade A offices across eight storeys in the heart of?Leeds’ commercial business district. 

Monitoring will provide ongoing information on the building’s performance, and help its occupiers target additional improvements.

Grosvenor says it will also be undertaking other improvements to Toronto Square to ensure it remains one of the best offices in Leeds. 

Rachel Dickieexecutive director of investment, Grosvenor, commented: “NABERS UK plays an essential role in driving transparency and trust around environmental performance of the office market. It will soon be the preferred standard for holding investors to account and guiding how to improve existing assets.” 

NABERS in the UK

The NABERS UK Energy for Offices Scheme enables building owners to rate, verify and disclose the energy ‘performance in-use’ of existing offices, based on actual metered consumption. 

This creates much needed market transparency and an investment grade rating that can be used to drive improvements in energy efficiency.  

The scheme has been adapted by Better Buildings Partnership (BBP), a not-for-profit collaboration of 48 of the UK’s leading property owners who are working together to improve the sustainability of the UK’s existing commercial buildings. 

The organisation’s aim is to deliver market transformation through sustainability leadership and knowledge sharing across the UK property industry. BBP members represent more than £275 billion ($A476.6 billion) assets under management.

“NABERS UK was developed in response to industry demand and so it is incredibly encouraging to see property owners committing to the Energy for Offices Scheme,” said Sarah Ratcliffe, chief executive officer Better Buildings Partnership. 

“Energy efficiency has a vital role to play on the road to net zero and existing buildings need to make significant progress, at pace, if targets are to be met. Verifying and disclosing energy performance in-use is a vital tool in driving the market transformation required and this is why the Better Buildings Partnership has been a long-term advocate of NABERS UK.”

The Australian scheme has driven a 42 per cent improvement in energy efficiency and emissions reductions of 53 per cent in commercial offices over the past 14 years. 

NABERS UK is already playing a pivotal role in bridging the performance gap between the design and in-use energy performance of new offices in the UK, with 34 buildings registered under the NABERS UK Design for Performance scheme, covering a floor area of around  630,500 square metres. 

The technical development work underpinning the NABERS UK rating scheme methodology was undertaken by consultants Verco in the UK and Delta Q from Australia. 

The methodology has been arrived at through extensive industry engagement, including input from members of the NABERS UK Steering Committee, NABERS UK Pioneers and IDR panellists.  

BRE, a UK centre for building energy efficiency, is the scheme administrator and the calculator tools for the base building, whole building and tenancy ratings are now available on the BRE website.

NABERS UK has now been integrated into industry standards and guidance, including the: 

  • British Council for Offices’ Guide to Specification
  • Royal Institute of British Architects Plan of Works
  • UK Green Building Council and LETI Energy Use Intensity Targets for Offices
  • Building Services Research and Information Association Soft Landings
  • Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers’s TM54 standard

NABERS is also utilised by the Greater London Authority in its ‘be seen’ energy policy guidance. 

Despite the recent trend towards working from home during the pandemic, the commercial office renting market remains buoyant but investors and prospective tenants are increasingly aware of environmental issues.

It is a legal requirement that from 2025 all commercial premises must have an Energy Performance Certificate of C or above.

David Thorpe is the author of Passive Solar Architecture Pocket Reference,  Energy Management in Buildings and  Sustainable Home Refurbishment. He lives in the UK.

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