Total Property - Issue 3 2016

The National Australian-Built Environment Rating System New Zealand (NABERSNZ) is a low-cost tool that rates the energy performance of commercial office buildings by giving one to six stars. The more stars, the more efficient the building.

NABERSNZ is based on the long-running Australian NABERS programme which has demonstrated that buildings with good NABERS ratings are more desirable to tenants, have better occupancy rates and tend to have longer lease terms. It’s also a way for owners and tenants to compare their buildings to the rest of the market. There are three types of ratings: tenancy, base building and whole building rating. A more efficient building:
1. Costs less to run and maintain, and hold its value better over time.
2. Has lighting, heating and air conditioning that creates a more pleasant workplace - directly contributing to staff health, wellbeing, comfort and productivity.
3. Demonstrates sustainability and environmental responsibility which is increasingly important for many companies. Measuring and reporting energy use is a vital part of this.

Certification fees for NABERSNZ rating are straightforward at $1000 per building. Paying to complete an assessment depends on the ease of obtaining data which sometimes uncovers curly issues like buildings not being correctly metered, or the net lettable areas (NLA) being incorrectly measured. Getting the right data means it is much easier to year-on-year undertake ratings, track improvements and be able to publicly state performance. The main cost of a rating is the assessor’s time which typically starts at $1500 with total costs dependent on the type of rating, size of building and number of tenancies.

NABERSNZ assessors examine buildings for factors including annual energy use, occupancy hours and NLA - along with checking metering systems for compliance. Proof is required that the rentable area of the building was collected to the Property Council New Zealand standard. If buildings have undergone retrofits, with metering systems being replaced, owners need to ensure they are NABERSNZ compliant and have recorded at least 12 months of energy use data. This also helps owners and assessors to improve performance.

The best time to lock energy efficiency into buildings is during design, construction or major refurbishment.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) Business can help fund the cost of getting expert advice on any stage of a building’s design and construction. This includes introducing energy-saving practices, installation of energy monitoring and targeting systems; and monitoring heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems – also known as a continuous commissioning system.

Heritage buildings aren’t usually leaders in energy efficiency, but Te Puni Kōkiri House in Wellington has proved it’s possible with impressive ratings under both the Green Star and NABERSNZ schemes. The former 1940s State Insurance building at 143 Lambton Quay had a major refit in 2013 with owners Argosy eventually achieving a 5 Green Star rating. The building uses 20 percent less energy than before the refit, and is 27 percent more efficient than the commercial office average.

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