Everybody needs good NABERS
New Zealand and Australia have led the way in a lot of PropTech and Law Tech, they are also now leading the way with the launch of a new energy efficiency rating scheme for UK office buildings with NABERS UK.
NABERS is already well established in Australia but was launched in the UK in October 2020 with the support of the Better Buildings Partnership, which has over 37 members within the property industry. The launch was also supported by Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Minister of State for the Department of Business and Industry Strategy.
What is NABERS and how does it work?
NABERS UK will be administered by Building Research Establishment and has two rating systems, one for new buildings and one for existing. Design for Performance (DfP) is used for new office buildings and ‘Energy for Offices’ (EfO) tracks and rates the energy efficiency of existing buildings.
Design for Performance is an agreement with the developer to target a particular rating at the end of the development process, with the development modelled against this rating. There is then an independent review and the modelling work informs the construction.
Why do we need a new assessment method?
As we have already have BREEAM in use for new buildings, it is my view that NABERS is responding to the increasing demand from both occupiers and investors to provide strategies to help with sustainability.
Providing accurate data on the carbon footprint of a building will increasingly be part of the agenda to limit the impact of climate-change. With the new agenda of repurposing buildings, an accurate assessment of the carbon footprint of a commercial building will very much be part of achieving improved energy performance for buildings.
I recently took part in a discussion on repurposing of retail buildings and it was so refreshing to hear an experienced developer confirm that after comparing the carbon footprint of demolishing and rebuilding to re-purposing, it was concluded that the environmental impact was dramatically reduced by retaining the existing building and adding on a couple of floors.
This type of exercise will become so much more prevalent as developers consider the effect of climate change and the need to decarbonise their portfolios and achieve net-zero.
I can also see that post-pandemic, with occupiers demanding better spaces, investors and landlords will require more data on buildings so they can understand how the buildings can meet the needs of tenants for greener, higher-quality, better equipped spaces.
If the pandemic is to lead to better and greener office spaces NABERS will very much be part of that discussion. Taking the principles that NABERS has adopted and applying them here in the UK could have a real impact, particularly as it can be a truly international initiative.
Developers could compete to deliver higher ratings as demanded by occupiers. NABERS has a six- star rating; one star is poor and six stars is market-leading.
As with the pandemic we all need to do our part and providing greater transparency on building efficiency can be a big part of this. In time it may also provide an accountability tool by which landlords can be measured and by which space can be graded.
If it helps to distinguish the quality of space, then that can only be a good thing. It will I think soon become part of the due diligence tool kit for measuring building efficiency.
At the time of writing there are already 14 new schemes lined up to achieve the NABERS rating. These schemes will provide very good data and will I think be the start of developers’ future proofing their buildings.
If you are a commercial property developer, investor or landlord and would like to discuss the legal aspects of NABERS, or any other issues concerning your portfolio, please contact Karen Mason, on +44 (0)20 7464 4081 or email firstname.lastname@example.org