Nabers Annual Report 2020/21

Major Achievements

Preparing for the decade to deliver

Participation in NABERS grew by 11% for another record-breaking year

Over the last 12 months customers have been putting their sustainability commitment and performance management at the forefront of their plans. They are rating more of their floorspace, obtaining a more holistic view of building performance with waste and indoor environment ratings. We also saw years of work coming to fruition with considerable increase in those committing to and obtaining carbon neutral ratings.

Some highlights from FY21 include:

  • Waste ratings grew by 104%
  • Carbon Neutral ratings grew by a further 68% after more than doubling last year
  • Indoor environment ratings saw 41% growth
  • Hotel ratings grew by 283%

We welcomed our new NABERS Steering Committee to guide us into the next decade

It’s about who you have in your corner in the fight against climate change and for the planet. We are very pleased that this year 14 industry organisations have joined us on the NABERS Steering Committee (NSC) as stakeholder members for a three-year term.

Stakeholder members form an immensely valuable part of NABERS’ governance, providing crucial industry insights which contribute to NABERS’ strategic direction and business planning. While stakeholder members are non-voting, they actively participate and provide input into all decisions made by government members of the NABERS Steering Committee.

We welcomed Francesca Muskovic (National Policy Manager - Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs, Property Council of Australia) back for a second term as the NSC Stakeholder Chair and Nicholas Burt (Chief Executive Officer, Facility Management Association of Australia) as the NSC Stakeholder Deputy Chair. We also welcome Lesley Dowling, General Manager - Industrial Energy Efficiency Branch at the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources as our new NSC Government Chair.

"We are very fortunate to have a Steering Committee made of Australia’s leading building sustainability organisations, both in industry as well as government," says Carlos Flores, Director, NABERS. "We are also excited to welcome members from new sectors to NABERS, such as apartment buildings and residential aged care, as well as from indoor environmental quality, which is one of our highest growth areas in recent years."

More sectors than ever are now ready to rate with a successful expansion into residential aged care and retirement living

The launch of NABERS into residential aged care and retirement living meant much of 2020-21 was spent working with leading organisations in these sectors. Their expert insights were key to help us understand how these sectors work, and what it takes to create sustainable buildings that can deliver what their senior occupants need.

It heralds a large step forward for these sectors in being able to manage and celebrate their buildings’ environmental performance and progress towards net-zero emissions.

We gathered data from more than 300 facilities across Australia to develop the NABERS star ratings.

Upon completion of the tool, 16 buildings participated in a detailed pilot which resulted in a more robust final benchmark.

The next sectors planned for NABERS expansion are warehouses and cold stores, expected to launch in 2022.

The expansion projects are a joint national initiative by States, Territories, and the Australian Governments. The project was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER).

Warrigal Queanbeyan

Warrigal Queanbeyan

Warrigal Queanbeyan is a co-located facility, its Retirement Living part is rated 6 stars NABERS Energy

We might not have been able to travel out of Australia this year, but our tools have managed the hop across the ocean with a well-received NABERS UK launch

Not only have we launched into new sectors in Australia, but in November 2020 the NABERS United Kingdom scheme was launched. This included a NABERS Energy for offices tool as well as Design for Performance Agreements (the equivalent to a NABERS Commitment Agreement) available across the UK.

Industry stakeholders in the UK identified a real need for an operational rating tool for the UK market to provide a fair and credible way of measuring the in-use energy performance of buildings. The Better Buildings Partnership (BBP), a UK membership organisation dedicated to improving the sustainability performance of the property sector worked with our team to bring Australian best practice to the UK.

Recognising the benefits of sharing learnings and experience for the common good, the NABERS team collaborated with the BBP, its members and technical partners to help create the NABERS UK scheme. The scheme was licensed to BRE, who has since become the NABERS UK scheme administrator. We are really proud of working with BBP and BRE in this international partnership, and for the opportunity to share what we have learnt in Australia for the benefit of others and the planet.

NABERS United Kingdom Logo

Building Better Partnerships (BBP) Logo

BRE logo

The NABERS Sustainable Portfolios Index broadened its reach, and NABERS Energy ratings are used as a lynchpin in more sustainability linked loans

In April 2021 we released the third NABERS Sustainable Portfolios Index (SPI), which showcases the proven environmental performance of the top 43 building portfolios and funds across the country. It is globally unique in that it provides a public, whole portfolio view of actual performance in terms of emissions, energy and water usage, waste and indoor environment quality. It also tracks progress over time.

Here are some of the highlights from the NABERS Sustainable Portfolios Index (SPI) this year. We saw:

  • 24% of all offices in Australia now represented in the SPI
  • A 13% increase in property portfolios participating in the SPI
  • A 27% increase in funds disclosing their portfolio NABERS Indoor Environment performance
  • Three 100% Carbon Neutral portfolios

This year’s Index also showed that 82% of participating offices buildings now have a net zero commitment. That represents over 5.3 million sqm or 18% of national office building stock according to the Property Council of Australia. Two years ago, NABERS went one step further by offering Climate Active Carbon Neutral certification for buildings.

Investors in the property sector are placing increased importance on mitigation of climate risks in buildings. This has been brought into sharper focus following a year of unprecedented global challenges in 2020.

Key sustainability finance players also see the NABERS SPI as an important source of information for mobilising capital investment in low-carbon assets and technology. For instance, NABERS portfolio ratings are used as the benchmark for banks providing sustainability linked loans.

NABERS SPI covers offices and shopping centres, as well as carbon neutral commitments and achievements.

NABERS ratings now capture the greening of the grid

To ensure that NABERS Energy ratings accurately reflect the latest emissions related to different energy sources, we updated the emissions factors used to calculate NABERS Energy ratings for all building types in July 2021.

Emissions factors, also known as the National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) factors, are used in NABERS Energy ratings to enable the comparison of the emissions associated with the use of different energy sources. The emissions related to electricity use have been falling with the increased amount of renewable energy in the grid.

A next step for the team is to deliver transparency around renewable energy sources, and extend our recognition of accredited renewable energy to sources beyond GreenPower. We are developing a renewable energy indicator designed to shed light on a building’s procurement of renewable energy. Watch this space.

Solar Panels feed renewable energy into the grid

Supporting the NABERS community through a challenging year

Enabling progress through agile Rulings and more funding and fee-waivers than ever before

At the beginning of the financial year we partnered with the Commonwealth Government to announce funding and fee-waivers to assist our customers and Assessors during the COVID-19 pandemic. We removed rating fees for all NABERS ratings – both new and renewing – for most building types, from July 1, 2020.

Building owners still paid the Assessor fees, enabling Assessors to continue to employ staff by stimulating demand for their services. Building owners could combine multiple ratings to save more on fees. That means customers were more likely to conduct additional ratings such as NABERS Water, Indoor Environment or Waste. We also announced a 100% fee waiver for NABERS Assessors accreditation fees so Assessors could continue to do their great work despite trying financial circumstances due to the pandemic.

Building owners could combine multiple ratings to save more on fees. That means customers were more likely to conduct additional ratings such as NABERS Water, Indoor Environment or Waste.

Jay Gualtieri,
Managing Director of Ausenviro

We have continued to take an agile approach to deal with new challenges the pandemic has posed to conducting NABERS ratings. Over the last financial year, the ruling document Managing Impacts of COVID-19 on NABERS Ratings had five updates to account for the shifting nature of the pandemic, and the document has seen continual usage by assessors as jurisdictions enter and exit lockdowns. We are heartened by the kind messages we have received from owners and Assessors our response to COVID, and we thank you for all the huge volume of insights and expertise you gave us to help us make it happen Jay Gualtieri, Managing Director of Ausenviro noted “The ability to make the right calls in trying circumstances is credit to the NABERS department and I am very thankful for their leadership and conviction in such trying circumstances.”

This approach ensured that we supported our valued Assessor community, and stimulated demand for sustainability services.

This supported:

  • 563 NABERS Assessors to renew their accreditation.
  • 744 fee-free NABERS ratings lodged by Australian businesses.

In addition to this there were several other highly successful grants and offers in conjunction with key partners.

Small shopping centre offer

In March 2021, NABERS launched a new offer for first time small shopping centre rating customers across Australia to get a free Energy rating. The offer, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) included waiving both the NABERS Energy rating certification fee and a significant financial contribution towards the associated Assessor fees for small shopping centres.

46 small shopping centres (between 5,000-15,000 m2) took advantage of the offer and were rated for the first time.

Energy Starters and Carbon Neutral Leaders pilot offer (NSW)

With support from the NSW Government, NABERS launched an offer designed to support buildings in NSW to measure and improve their environmental performance. It provided a zero-cost energy or carbon neutral rating to buildings that had never rated before. The offer waived the NABERS rating certification fee and made a significant financial contribution towards the associated Assessor fees for NSW buildings in specific sectors.

The aim of the project was to help speed up the transition to net zero emissions buildings, with a specific focus on energy efficiency. The offer was available to:

  • Energy Starters – For buildings that are just getting started and had not rated with NABERS Energy before
  • Carbon Neutral Leaders - For buildings that were considering NABERS Carbon Neutral and have not achieved certification before. (Offer excluded the cost of carbon offsets).

56 buildings and tenancies benefitted from the offer across a range of different sectors.

Breakdown of total ratings across participating sectors

Sole trader grants

Early on in the pandemic, ARBS Foundation generously offered 8 grants for sole traders to enrol in the NABERS Energy & Water for Offices training course. The subsidies were equivalent to 80% of the course fees. The purpose of this grant was to encourage more sole traders to become NABERS Assessors. The scheme was very popular, and all places were quickly filled up.

Providing future proofed solutions to meet tomorrow’s sustainability needs today

We launched our new state-of-the-art assessment platform, NABERS Perform

The NABERS Perform platform marks one of the most radical improvements to NABERS since the program began, recognising the role technology will play in the transition to net zero.

As a first step towards unifying all NABERS input platforms, we launched NABERS Perform in April 2021, a new human-centred cloud platform for conducting NABERS ratings faster and more efficiently. Backed by extensive research with Assessors, NABERS Perform is easy to use, reducing the amount of manual work conducted by NABERS Assessors and enabling them to complete ratings in less time.

In April 2021, we transitioned shopping centre ratings over to the new platform. It improves the user experience and makes data easier to access. It is a significant upgrade from current platforms such as Rate and Members which it will replace entirely over time.

Through NABERS Perform, Assessors working with shopping centre ratings can:

  • easily compare with last rating data to detect inconsistencies and improve quality of the ratings
  • check and correct errors quickly and easily with real-time data validations
  • copy and paste straight from Excel 

The easy access to rating data means customers will benefit from even higher quality ratings, and this data can help the industry to learn and adapt for future improvements. The platform will unite existing platforms and internal processes, helping NABERS scale to more sectors.

We’re also making it easier to do business with a new and improved payment gateway. Under a pilot, the new system is now available for Residential Aged Care and Retirement Living sectors and NABERS hopes to roll out more widely in the next financial year.

More people are becoming a NABERS Accredited Assessor from the comfort of their own home

Based on trainee feedback, our most popular course, Energy & Water for Offices was transformed into a purely self-paced online course. In a world where travel has become more difficult, this now allows for individuals across the country to enrol whenever they want and wherever they are. As part of the enrolment fee we also provide a one-on-one session with a NABERS trainer who helps answer any open questions the trainee may have. This move towards highly accessible content is continuing. Moving forward all our accreditation courses will be offered as self-paced, modular training.

We launched a new online prerequisite training module called Metering & Consumption. This covers the basics of different meter types, how to read single line diagrams, and what to look for during a site visit. This was much-needed content all our Energy Assessors should know before collecting rating data. Trainee feedback has been very positive:

“The real-world examples showing single line diagrams, switchboards, and photos of meters and wiring were great. Walking through the steps of the rating as the Assessor was very useful and would give newer Assessors a great idea about what to expect on site.”

We also launched our new training session for Residential Aged Care and Retirement Living, which was extremely popular. Over 90 people attended the training.

Metering and consumption pre-requisite online course

Rules were refined to cater to improving NABERS technology

We released a major version update to the Energy & Water for Shopping Centre Rules to coincide with the release of NABERS Perform. This release of the Rules incorporates feedback from Assessors on how to make ratings simpler to achieve, without compromising accuracy.

Also released were the new Thermal Energy System rules. The new Rules responds to feedback from Assessors and customers that the rules could be simplified, again reducing the cost and time taken to do a rating. The rules will allow buildings to better use thermal metering to record energy and water consumption, aiding in scalability of the NABERS program to buildings that previously could not be rated.

We’re gearing up to continuously improve our ability to meet the needs of Assessors with the annual NABERS satisfaction survey

At the end of FY2021, NABERS launched the NABERS Assessor Satisfaction Survey. It is designed to capture the Assessors’ experience with our tools and service. Run over three weeks, all active NABERS Assessors were invited to provide feedback in five key areas:

  • General communications
  • Level 1 Audits
  • Level 2 Audits
  • Training
  • Rules Management

The results of this year’s survey will inform changes to operations in the new financial year and serve as a baseline to compare against results in future surveys.

Overall, 85% of Assessors were either satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the work of the NABERS team. The highest rates of satisfaction around the questions of professionalism of the NABERS staff, with an average of 94% of Assessors either satisfied or somewhat satisfied. We do not want these to be just vanity metrics, but a way for us to systematically improve and provide a better service to all of you who are making a real difference in the field. We’re looking forward to strengthening the relationship even further in the next financial year.

A better future for the built environment is in the stars

Overall a challenging year has been a success for sustainability. With more ratings, more incentives, more training, and more appetite than ever before.

We are prepared for the decade to deliver. We tried hard to support the NABERS community through unprecedented circumstances in FY21, and we are focusing on continuous improvement to provide future-proofed solutions to meet tomorrow’s sustainability needs. We are energised by the positive change our NABERS community are driving, and by the many partnerships we are seeing across in Australia and overseas. We look forward to another year of being united in action. With results like these, it’s hard not to think that a better future for the built environment is written in the stars.