A new international property measurement standard for calculating residential floor space could provide a reliable benchmark for energy efficiency and sustainability tools such as NABERS, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Currently there are four different methods of measuring floor space in Australia, which can lead to differences of up to 20 per cent depending on what method is used. With most sustainability tools based on energy per square metre, this means energy efficiency outcomes could appear different depending on how floor space is measured.

The International Property Measurement Standard – Residential provides a globally consistent way of measuring residential floor space, and has been developed by a panel of 18 experts representing a coalition of 80 organisations from 11 countries, including RICS.

RICS Oceania corporate affairs manager Robert Hardie told The Fifth Estate measuring the energy efficiency of apartments was sometimes like comparing apples and orange, and sustainability outcomes could be improved if there was consistency.

“There’s a very simple phrase: if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it,” he said.

He said the tool would provide an accurate way of measuring energy efficiency, and enable the comparison of like with like.

With COP21 agreeing to limit global temperature rise by less than 2°C, and the built environment one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions, Mr Hardie said having consistency in how buildings were measured was a critical step in tackling building energy efficiency.

RICS calls for NABERS to adopt standard

RICS is pushing for NABERS to adopt the international standard as part of the newly announced NABERS for Apartments tool.

He said using the international standard, rather than the traditional Property Council standard, could enable for an easier transfer of NABERS into the global market.

NABERS has previously exported its office rating tool to New Zealand, as well as making inroads in Hong Kong and India.

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Mr Hardie said that while measurements for offices was largely consistent, which had helped the success of NABERS office tools, inconsistency in the residential space could hamper the success of NABERS for apartments.

“What NABERS is doing is trying to establish the idea of a six-star apartment complex. That’s only good with a consistent approach.”

The NSW government, which administers NABERS, has previously said it is actively looking into using the new measurement standard.

See the standard, and a research report investigating local measurement practices across the world.