Nabers Annual Report 2021/22

Major Achievements

9.9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions saved over the last two decades, thanks to NABERS

NABERS has continued to gain new participants, by strengthening partnerships with our long-time champions and increasing uptake of ratings in many non-mandated sectors.

Some of this year’s highlights include:

  • 14% of our customers were new to NABERS
  • 12.5% growth in shopping centre ratings
  • 72% increase in Waste for Offices ratings
  • 81% increase in Carbon Neutral ratings
  • 34% increase in Indoor Environment ratings
  • 12.5% increase in non-mandated ratings.

Maintaining market momentum

Renewable Energy Indicator ramps up

We stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the market in support of renewable energy and electrification and our work on the new Renewable Energy Indicator (REI) will recognise and reward the generation and purchase of renewable energy.

The REI will disclose the proportion of renewable energy used in a building on its NABERS rating certificate.

A pilot program over the year allowed 10 buildings to calculate their REI and display their results on a new certificate. We are incorporating feedback gleaned from the pilot and getting ready to launch in early 2023.

The Renewable Energy Indicator will soon be included in every NABERS Energy rating (and displayed on every NABERS Energy certificate) without an additional cost. This will add a new layer of transparency to the market and encourage healthy competition among building owners.

Upping the stakes on embodied carbon

As Australia’s property and construction industry continues to drive down operational emissions at speed and scale, our attention turns to the next biggest source of carbon emissions: embodied or ‘upfront’ carbon. These could represent as much as 85% of Australia’s built environment emissions by 2050, putting our collective net zero ambitions at risk. To support market transformation, NABERS is working with industry and governments across Australia to develop a world-leading framework to measure, compare and improve embodied carbon in new buildings. This national framework promises to boost transparency, enhance reporting and create demand for low carbon construction materials.

The framework is being developed in close partnership with industry, other states and the Australian Government. NABERS has engaged with more than 150 industry practitioners, academics, policymakers and industry association leaders, from nearly 100 organisations, to better understand obstacles and opportunities in the embodied carbon space. From this engagement, we know there is a collective desire within industry for a trusted and robust framework to compare, set targets and reduce embodied emissions in buildings and products. We look forward to working with the NABERS community and beyond to build a collective platform for robust, long-term and large-scale reduction of embodied emissions.

Stepping into new sectors

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) has funded the expansion of NABERS to new sectors of the built environment.

Residential aged care and retirement living

The proportion of Australians aged 65 and over is growing rapidly, and by 2066 senior Australians will account for nearly a quarter (23%) of the population. Each and every one of these senior Australians deserve to live in a home that is safe, comfortable and sustainable.

On 8 September 2021, NABERS launched rating tools to help the residential aged care and retirement living sectors accelerate their path towards more sustainable operations. Striding forward into this sector with confidence required an extensive period of engagement and data-gathering. More than 48 organisations with 300-plus facilities were involved in the rating tool development, and we tested the benchmarks on 17 facilities during the pilot phase.

Since the launch, we have issued 36 NABERS Energy ratings and 31 NABERS Water ratings for the sector, while also training and accrediting 70 assessors.

NABERS Waste verification is also available for this sector.

Warehouses and cold stores

The pandemic taught us that warehouses and cold stores are the backbone of the global economy, securing food, goods and vaccine supplies at the toughest of times. Now, with the sector growing rapidly, leaders in these sectors are turning their attention to the global challenge of achieving net zero emissions.

A NABERS Energy rating tool for warehouses and cold stores was released in September 2022 to support the industry’s efforts. We worked with 21 organisations and 159 facilities to collect benchmark data and tested the tool on 17 projects across a range of climate zones.

One of those leaders is Americold’s Director Peter Brice, who says: “We embrace the positive impact that the NABERS rating tool will have on our temperature-controlled infrastructure. With a system to measure our environmental performance, we are better able to drive improvements, lower our emissions and contribute to a more sustainable future.

We have also accredited 72 assessors, and NABERS Perform – a new user-friendly online platform – will soon be available for assessors to rate these facilities.

NABERS Waste verification is also available for this sector.

Martin Brower Wetherill Park facility was one of the first buildings to participate in the warehouse and cold store pilot project. This building achieved an outstanding 4.5 star NABERS Energy rating.


More than four million Australians students attend school each day across a massive 9,581 schools. School leaders want to drive down energy, emissions and water use but they need the tools to help. Stakeholder consultation has started as we gather data from all types of schools, including government, systemic and independent schools. We will kick-start working groups for school stakeholders in October 2022. The rating tools are expected to be released in mid-2023.

Retail stores

Australian retailers have adapted to the shifting sands of the pandemic, as supply chains, business models and consumer preferences evolve rapidly. Amid all the change, there is one constant pressure: the push towards sustainable retail operations.

The data gathering process for retail stores is also underway, as we work with many retail sub-categories, from big box retail to department stores, outlets within shopping centres to street-facing stores. An advisory panel will be established early next year with the rating tool slated for release in the 2023 financial year.

Waste verification tool

Australia generates an estimated 74.1 million tonnes of waste a year, of which nearly 22 million tonnes were produced by the commercial and industrial buildings sector. To help reduce this, this year we launched the NABERS Waste Verification tool for a wide array of sectors. The tool is designed so that you can report on your building’s waste performance using a respected industry standard. By inputting data into the NABERS Waste Platform and verifying on-the-ground performance with a NABERS Waste Assessor, you will generate a report that enables you to prove your commitment to reducing your building’s environmental footprint.

It is now available to:

  • Apartment buildings
  • Corrective services
  • Data centres
  • Hotels
  • Office tenancies
  • Overseas buildings
  • Residential aged care and retirement living
  • Warehouses and cold stores.

International partnerships

United Kingdom

In July 2022, Toronto Square in Leeds became the first office building certified under the NABERS UK rating tool, achieving an impressive 4.5 star NABERS Energy rating. The building’s owner, Grosvenor, has also set a net zero by 2030 target. To reach that target, Grosvenor has committed that all its office buildings over 1,000 sqm will hold a NABERS UK rating above 4.5 stars by the end of 2025.

Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO, Better Buildings Partnership UK

Rachel Dickie, Grosvenor’s Executive Director of Investment, has said: “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.”

Also in July 2022, at an event hosted by the Better Buildings Partnership in London, NABERS Director Carlos Flores announced NABERS UK’s expansion to offer whole building and tenancy options.

The administrator of NABERS UK, BRE Global, has worked closely with NABERS in Australia and further achievements this year include:

  • 35 NABERS UK Assessors licensed by BRE Global to undertake ratings for the UK market
  • 190 NABERS UK training enrolments demonstrating strong interest from prospective assessors and others active in the sector
  • 15 Design for Performance (DfP) projects – the UK equivalent of NABERS Commitment Agreements – were registered in addition to 14 pilot projects
  • 600,000 sqm of office space is now covered by DfP projects.

The NABERS UK scheme was created through a partnership between NABERS and the UK Better Buildings Partnership, and it is administered by BRE across the United Kingdom.

Luke Menzel, CEO, Energy Efficiency Council, Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO, Better Buildings Partnership UK and Carlos Flores, Director, NABERS at the Better Building Partnerships event in London.

New Zealand

Across the Tasman, NABERS Energy for Offices ratings grew by 81% – from 58 to 105 ratings certified in just one year. This growth has been partly driven by the introduction of procurement requirements by the New Zealand Government, which now requires a NABERSNZ rating of 4 stars or higher when public sector agencies lease offices of 2,000 sqm or more. Work started on NABERSNZ Energy and Water for Hospitals and this new rating tool is due for completion in 2023.

The NABERSNZ scheme was created a decade ago, through a partnership between NABERS and the New Zealand Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). NABERSNZ is administered by the New Zealand Green Building Council.

New international guide to NABERS Energy

In response to high levels of interest from a range of markets, notably Germany, NABERS released a new guide to NABERS Energy. The comprehensive resource introduces the suite of ratings to policymakers and sustainability professionals, and shares key lessons from the last 24 years so others can consider the implications for their own region or country. Access Energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

Easy, anywhere assessment

Accelerating Net Zero Buildings

The NSW Government released a new energy efficiency program, which will use NABERS ratings to help reduce energy use in buildings. As part of this program, NSW provided financial incentives for 44 medium and large buildings to obtain their first-ever indication of energy efficiency through a NABERS rating. This program will continue throughout FY23 and FY24, and it aims at significantly growing the number of NSW buildings setting ongoing targets for reducing energy use and emissions.

Improved Rules and Rulings

We are committed to continually improving every aspect of NABERS, and that includes our Rules and Rulings. To ensure assessors understand the technical aspects of a NABERS rating, we’ve published several documents, including:

Online training opens doors

Hybrid working means more and more people prefer self-paced online learning. Most NABERS training is free and can now be accessed online. We have continued to ramp up our offerings to support the growing number of sectors and building types rated by NABERS. “Using NABERS to boost your GRESB score” attracted more than 100 enrolments, for instance, while 132 people undertook an introduction to thermal energy systems.

Access our training content here.

Other online training courses we launched this year include:

  • Energy for Data Centres
  • Energy & Water for Apartment Buildings
  • Using NABERS for sustainable building planning in Victoria
  • Using NABERS for sustainable building planning in New South Wales
  • NABERS Shared Services and Facilities
  • NABERS Thermal Energy Systems for Assessors.

An extract from the NABERS Thermal Energy Systems for Assessors online course.

A training webinar for warehouses and cold stores was attended by more than 130 people. Trainee feedback was very positive, with one participant noting the quality of the interactive questions and the “instant feedback on your understanding of a subject”.

Connecting with our community

Our biggest conference yet

In June 2022, more than 1,400 people registered – albeit virtually – for the fifth annual NABERS + CBD conference. Connecting people from across Australia under the theme of ‘United in Action’, we explored the newest industry trends and NABERS products. Some of Australia’s leading sustainable built environment experts shared insights and inspiration as we scale our impact together. Craig Reucassel, host of the ABC’s The War on Waste, set the scene for the day, with the keynote speakers including:

  • Rachel Parry, Deputy Secretary, Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability, Office of Energy and Climate Change
  • Carlos Flores, Director, NABERS
  • Francesca Muskovic, National Policy Director, Property Council of Australia
  • Jan Smits, CEO & Deputy Chair APAC, Pro-invest Group
  • Davina Rooney, CEO, Green Building Council of Australia
  • Duncan McIntyre, Head of Energy Division, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

What were the three most popular sessions?

  • How buildings can lead the way towards a circular, net zero, sustainable economy: NABERS Director Carlos Flores shared an update on the rollout of new rating tools, sector expansion and future directions.
  • Sticks, carrots and tambourines: How government can encourage energy efficient buildings.
  • The catalytic role of energy efficiency in reaching net zero: Why energy efficiency remains a pillar of any net zero strategy.

Assessors, facilities managers, sustainability specialists and building practitioners, new and existing customers, planning professionals, investors and government representatives all came together with one common goal – to create happier and healthier spaces for people and the planet.

More than four hours of video content from our conference can be viewed online.

Craig Reucassel, host of ABC’s ‘The War on Waste’, Kate Wilson, Executive Director - Climate Change and Sustainability Division, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Luke Menzel, CEO, Energy Efficiency Council and Anne Martinelli, Interim Executive Director, Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, during the closing remarks.

Suruchi Pathak, NABERS Sector Expansion Lead, wrapping up her panel session.

Satellite events support a sustainable nation

Throughout July and August, we followed up our online conference with touring face-to-face events in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth. These satellite events gave NABERS and Commercial Building Disclosure Assessors a chance to network with peers and engage in detailed conversations with NABERS and CBD staff on project developments.

These six events attracted more than 340 registrations, bringing together industry and key players in the NABERS ecosystem. It was also a great opportunity for people to reconnect face-to-face after such a long time.

Sara Levett, NABERS Sector Lead, speaking at the Melbourne satellite event.

NABERS Assessors mingling at the NABERS + CBD Perth satellite event.

Ivana Brown, NABERS Sector Lead Accelerating Net Zero Buildings, and James Elks, NABERS Head of Product Development, connect in Adelaide airport.

Support for Local Government Planners

NABERS is undertaking a project funded by the Australian Government to reduce the performance gap between designed energy efficiency and actual operation in commercial buildings. Following extensive engagement with local government across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, we’ve been developing a range of training and resources. These materials have been designed specifically to improve the knowledge and capacity of planning professionals and to help local councils to understand and use sustainability tools like NABERS Commitment Agreements in the planning approvals process.

This work follows a collaboration with the GBCA to better understand the planning landscape across all states. We’ve since launched our ‘Using NABERS for Sustainable Building Planning’ training course for Victoria and New South Wales, with similar courses for Queensland and Western Australia in the pipeline. These have been supported by a range of case studies that demonstrate clear cost benefits and emissions reductions. Just some of the stories include:

  • 1 Malop Street, Geelong: A $175 million transformation that has turned an old treasure into a world-class workplace, and elevating the NABERS Energy rating from 5 to 5.5 stars will save around $950,000 in operational costs over the building’s 50-year lifespan.
  • Midtown Centre, Brisbane: With 5 Star NABERS Energy and 4 Star NABERS Water ratings, this imaginative adaptive reuse project is 30% more energy efficient and 35% more water efficient than a conventional building. As developer Michael Bruderlin of InDeMa Properties says, “with a NABERS rating it is easy to quantify these outgoings”.
  • 99 St Georges Terrace, Perth: This building had ageing plant, a zero NABERS Energy rating and a 75% vacancy rate when an innovative partnership set out to elevate its energy efficiency – and the result is a predicted $140,509 saved each year.

Closing the performance gap

In October 2021, another collaboration with the GBCA strengthened the business case for both NABERS Commitment Agreements as well as Green Star ratings. Analysis of 176 offices with base building NABERS Energy ratings and Green Star ratings found 88% achieved their modelled NABERS Energy rating or were within 0.5 stars. The report, Closing the performance gap in Australia’s commercial office sector, was emphatic. A NABERS Commitment Agreement is “much more than a piece of paper”. This contract, signed by a developer or building owner at the design stage, “is a critical success factor in translating design intentions into real-world outcomes”.

The best resources to make better decisions

34% upswing in Sustainable Portfolios Index participation

In May, the fourth Sustainable Portfolios Index (SPI) 2022 confirmed an unprecedented 34.5% increase in participating portfolios – our largest growth rate yet.

Australia’s only publicly available index presenting the actual environmental performance of the top 53 building portfolios and funds, the SPI also recorded a 50% increase in the number of portfolios disclosing NABERS Indoor Environment ratings. This reflects growing interest from tenants and investors in healthy and productive workspaces in the wake of the pandemic.

This year the SPI’s Portfolio Profile section was revamped, with new graphs telling an engaging visual story. The enhanced navigation throughout the dashboard makes access faster and easier.

Sustainable Finance Criteria

How can NABERS help banks, investors, non-bank lenders and building owners of all sizes and scale to structure sustainable finance transactions? This question drove the development of the Sustainable Finance Criteria.

Financial institutions want sustainable investments that can be easily verified, but assessing investments can often be complex and time consuming for both borrowers and lenders.

In response, NABERS launched the criteria on 1 June to set consistent NABERS-based targets. Developed and piloted in consultation with the investment community and building owners, the criteria sets out three methods to demonstrate eligibility for a green loan. Now influencing everything from building upgrades to entire portfolios, the criteria is one more step towards sustainable investment, lending and development in Australia.

A flexible team focused on the future

Over the last year, the NABERS team continues to work flexibly. Our locations and life stages are sometimes different, but we have one common purpose: to prove that measurement leads to better management.

We look forward to continuing to work as a close-knit team alongside our stakeholders for a more sustainable tomorrow.