NABERS’ new strategy: A bold vision backed up with practical actions 26 April 2019

NABERS’ new strategy: A bold vision backed up with practical actions

We had some great news last week – after almost 18 months of intensive work from the NABERS team and all of us on the National Steering Committee, NABERS has a new Strategy for the next five years.

The new strategy builds on a solid foundation. Over the last 20 years the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) has succeeded in driving sustainability in the built environment across a range of metrics. However one of the areas in which it has really shone is energy.

In its first two decades NABERS saved businesses $792 million in energy bills. It has reduced CO² emissions by 5.4m tonnes. It has also driven a transformation in the energy performance of Australia’s office buildings that continues today: in the 2017-18 financial year, over 100 office buildings achieved a NABERS Energy rating of 5.5 stars or higher for the first time.

I’d argue NABERS – in concert with the Commercial Building Disclosure Program – is Australia’s most successful energy efficiency program. Other efforts – like Minimum Energy Performance Standards for appliances – have had a huge cumulative impact. However NABERS is special because of the complexity of the problems it addresses, and the way that it brings people together to deal with them.

The NABERS National Steering Committee facilitates collaboration between governments (local, state and national), as well as between industry and government. This allows us to move further, faster because the key players are in the room, and on the journey together. 

That group has signed off on a NABERS strategy with a bold mission, a mission big enough to drive the team's agenda for the next three decades: 

All Australian buildings are healthy, comfortable and have zero environmental impact.

This big vision is balanced with a practical outlook that will see us through the next five years. Action will be focused on where the NABERS program is best placed to lead. In areas where others are better placed to act, the NABERS team will support their efforts.

With the NABERS strategy now in place, attention is turning to the outcome of the Federal Government’s Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Review. The CBD program mandates that office buildings above 1000 m² disclose their NABERS rating at point of sale of lease. Through the CBD program we've learnt that disclosure of energy performance drives market activity towards more efficient and sustainable outcomes. Among other issues, the Review is considering the case for expanding disclosure to other asset types, like hotels, shopping centres and data centres. The case for such an expansion is strong. Of course any expansion needs to be tailored to the specific drivers and barriers in these sectors. However a sensible broadening of Australia's disclosure regime, backed up with complementary policies, would help drive energy performance improvements across the economy.

NABERS’ new strategy is an easy document to read – if you are interested it’s worth downloading it and taking a look. Continuing to ramp up the sustainability of our built environment is a big part of the broader effort on energy and carbon playing out across Australia’s economy. With NABERS in a strong position to build on its past achievements, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Luke Menzel is Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Efficiency Council, Australia’s peak body for energy efficiency, energy management and demand response. Luke leads the Council’s work to make sensible, cost effective energy efficiency measures standard practice across the Australian economy, and is deeply engaged in energy policy both federally and in states across the country.

Before being appointed CEO, Luke led the development of a new Australian certification scheme for professionals that manage comprehensive energy upgrades of commercial buildings. The Energy Efficiency Certification Scheme launched in 2013.

Luke sits on a number of government and independent advisory committees, and is Vice President of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC).