What’s your building score? NABERS can help you become a sustainability hero


building lobby with people walking
171 Collins received a 6 Star NABERS ratings for Energy, Indoor Environment and Waste. Photo: Charter Hall

People want sustainable, low carbon buildings. Investors are asking for them, tenants are demanding them. Property owners know they need to start offering greener products – but where to begin?

Start by looking under the hood. You need to know how much energy, waste and water your building is consuming before you can start reducing it.

The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is just the tool for the job. Run by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on behalf of the federal government, NABERS compares buildings against similar buildings to see how they perform on energy, water and waste management, as well as the quality of their indoor environment.

For a NABERS Energy rating, energy consumption is measured over the course of a year and then compared with another building of a similar size, usage pattern and climatic conditions. This comparative process is also used for NABERS Waste, NABERS Water and NABERS Indoor Environment.

Buildings are given a rating out of six against these metrics, with a six-star rating considered market leading.

Once a building has a NABERS rating, it’s time to regroup and make changes to start climbing up the star ladder. A lower rating just means there are some quick and easy changes you can make to improve faster. And if you get a higher rating, it’s time to start leveraging this with your customers, investors, and stakeholders to keep aiming for the stars.

Nabers technical director Magali Wardle


That’s the beauty of measurement, according to NABERS market development head,

That’s the beauty of measurement, according to NABERS market development head, Magali Wardle “The first step to improving your performance is to measure using a NABERS rating. Then you can set a benchmark to see how much you improve.

There are many relatively easy interventions that can yield excellent results at a surprisingly low cost. After that, you can move to upgrades that will show a quick payback.”

“Building owners can start with things such as keeping temperatures within a wider band – without sacrificing occupant comfort, of course – before moving on to equipment upgrades, such as energy efficient lighting that turns off when people leave the room.

“But first you need the measurement – and NABERS gives you that tool. One that’s widely recognised in the market and these days is the gold standard to verify a building’s performance– and running costs for that matter.”

Once you start using NABERS, before long, you’ll have the evidence your building is well-tuned asset and cheaper to run than other comparable assets with a lower NABERS rating.

“It’s what tenants are looking for and what investors are looking for as we head into a net zero carbon economy,” Magali says.

The planet will thank you too.

Forza Capital's 55 Russell Street has a 6 Star NABERS rating, the top rating in the environmental rating scheme.
WorkZone West in Perth achieved a 6 Star NABERS Energy Rating at WorkZone West. Photo: Elanor Investors Group and Knight Frank

A pathway to a sustainable built environment

NABERS is more than a rating tool: it’s also a pathway to super sustainable, high-performance buildings.

Since it was introduced two decades ago, NABERS has been instrumental in improving energy performance of the office market in Australia. It’s mandatory for office buildings over 1000 square metres and almost 80 per cent the country’s office sector is covered by the NABERS Energy rating tool.

Based on office energy ratings alone, the scheme has saved 7 million tonnes of CO2 (enough to power 93,430 homes for a year) and it’s saved building owners $1billion on energy bills since it started.

The successful building performance scheme has even attracted global interest, with an adapted version of the scheme launched in the UK, in New Zealand and other countries particularly in Asia, taking a close look to see how they might use the NABERS template to inspire similar ratings tools.

And there’s more…

NABERS also offers Carbon Neutral certification, which leverages the federal government’s Climate Active greenhouse gas offsetting scheme to account for other sources of carbon emissions, such as refrigerants.

NABERS is also responsible for the NABERS Sustainable Portfolios Index, which is the only index in Australia that provides a whole portfolio view of actual performance in reducing emissions, water usage, waste and improving indoor environment quality.

Get started

Want to know where you stand right now? Visit the website and try out the calculator to estimate your rating.

For tips and tricks, and the latest in building sustainability follow NABERS on LinkedIn and Twitter, or subscribe to the mailing list.

Or if you have questions you can talk to a NABERS sector lead by emailing nabers@environment.nsw.gov.au.

The team says, “We’re looking forward to helping you on your sustainability journey to net zero”.


Government | Australia