Improving your NABERS rating
If you choose to have a NABERS (Energy) rating or are required to have one due to legal obligations it is likely you won’t be happy with the result. This is particularly true for older buildings. But are we stuck with the result we get and does it matter?
The result matters for two reasons. The first is that the rating is an indication of the energy efficiency of your building. A low rating means the building is more expensive to run.
The second reason is that the market for leasing or purchase of commercial space is looking for efficient buildings; so a low rating means you may not be able to lease of sell your building in the future due to competitive buildings nearby. If you do manage to lease or sell, chances are that it will be at a price lower than nearby buildings with a better NABERS rating.
The good news is that we are not stuck with the rating we get, there are options for improvement. The strategies you adopt will depend on a range of considerations. Firstly, are you looking at the base building rating only, the tenancy rating only or the whole building rating? Then, looking at the physical components, they can be broken up into the building fabric and building services.
With existing buildings, the building fabric is often fixed; But not always. In some buildings there may be the opportunity to improve insulation, shading or glazing. There are a range of options.
Some building services are also fixed but as they have a shorter life than the building fabric, they will eventually need to be replaced throughout the building’s lifetime. When that time comes you should have a plan ready to replace outgoing services with efficient modern alternatives.
It is worth noting that investing in initiatives to save energy can generate energy saving certificates which when sold can generate funds to off-set the cost of the work and thereby shortening the payback period.
It is not possible to go through every possible energy saving option for every situation. The key is to start a process based on a specific investigation of your building’s requirements and the opportunities available for improvement. An investigation will generate a list of options ranging from the easy, no cost items to larger capital replacement items.
When looking at NABERS ratings we are focused on reducing carbon emissions arising from the operation of your building. This in turn means lower energy use and therefore lowers operating costs. But lower emissions can arise from fuel substitution such as using cleaner burning gas instead of electricity generated from coal. Lower energy costs can also arise by shifting the time of use to off-peak. The same amount of energy might be used but the cost is considerably lower. The lower price is like a reward for helping the grid spread the load across the day.