(L-R): Floth director Richard Hewitt and Floth managing director Glenn Ralph.

Building services and engineering consultancy Floth has become the first business to be awarded a six-star NABERS Indoor Environment rating.

The award for its Fortitude Valley office in Brisbane follows on from last year’s announcement that the office was first to meet the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council’s zero carbon building standard and 6 Star Green Star Design & As Built v1.1.

Indoor environment, and the concept of “wellness”, has become increasingly important to the commercial office sector in recent times, buoyed by tools like NABERS IE and the WELL Building Standard, and backed up by research into the productivity benefits of healthier workspaces.

“We have been talking about the evidence linking building indoor environment quality with health and productivity outcomes for many years,” Floth ESD principal Anthony Marklund said.

“We care about buildings, moreover we care about the people who work and live in buildings. At Floth we strive for best practice and wanted to demonstrate leadership by caring for our own people first.”

NABERS IE rates thermal comfort, indoor air quality, acoustic comfort, lighting, office layout and systems maintenance, with ratings available for tenancies, base buildings and whole buildings.

Floth ESD consultant Loreta Brazukas told The Fifth Estate instead of specifically designing to meet the NABERS IE rating, the company had paid a lot of attention to finding synergies between NABERS and its Green Star rating. For example, as part of achieving Green Star Innovation points, Floth went for an occupancy survey as it would help meet the criteria for NABERS IE.

She said Floth was aiming high regarding certifications and trialling new tools for its offices “in order to be better able to inform clients, so we’re fully across [the tools] and giving the best advice we can”.

The NABERS IE rating also made sense because the building owners were also the occupants, and very interested in productivity.

Tom Grosskopf, director of the Metro Branch at NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, which manages the program, said the number of IE ratings had been slowly increasing over the past few years, and that many stakeholders were now expecting a sharp rise.

“It is important that we address both the social and environmental impact of buildings,” Mr Grosskopf said.

“Better indoor environment quality in our workplaces will lead to healthier, more productive staff. Healthy productive staff will lead to a more competitive economy, and more vibrant communities.”

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