Feb 8, 2017

Building standards: NABERS and Australia's sustainability profile

Alice Young
3 min
How efficient are Australia’s buildings? The number of voices asking this question has grown considerably in recent years, with government, bus...

How efficient are Australia’s buildings? The number of voices asking this question has grown considerably in recent years, with government, businesses and citizens all becoming increasingly concerned with the impact their buildings are having on the greater environment. And, with the Australian Government looking to achieve a 40 percent productivity increase in national energy usage by 2030, the question has become one of national concern.  

Set up over a decade ago, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is managed by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and is stepping up to the challenge of providing the answer to this ever pressing question. By collecting and comparing data, the organisation enables its users to take stock of energy usage and follow up with improvements to boost their future rating.

Rating Australia

At its core, NABERS uses a nationally applied rating system to measure the environmental performance of Australian buildings, homes, and tenancies. NABERS takes a number of factors into account when it comes to making assessments; it measures such variables as energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality. NABERS uses a rating system that goes from one to six stars – the latter representing exemplary, market leading performance, and a one star performance indicating that serious room for improvement is required.

How does NABERS rate the performance of a building? Over a long time period (typically 12 months) the organisation collects data from a range of variables, including energy or water bills, or waste audit. Specifically, the rating considers five key factors which comprise climatic conditions, hours of use, the level of building service provision, energy sources used, and the size and occupancy of the building. Furthermore, the program compares building performance with benchmarks that represent similar buildings in the same location.

For its varied user base, the accredited rating shows both what is working and what needs to be improved; businesses can set targets to be completed in the year before the next review and can thus make meaningful energy changes while saving money.

Building skills

In order to ensure that its ideology propagates as far as possible, NABERS provides an accredited online ‘Essentials’ training course. The company states: “The course is essential for anyone involved in commercial property, such as owners, managers, tenants, real estate agents, lawyers, valuers, and consultants, as well as professionals in sustainability and energy management. It is also becoming increasingly relevant for professionals working in the finance industry.”

The course consists of six, 30 minute modules that cover every aspect of NABERS ratings. Learners will come to understand more about the objectives of NABERS, how its star ratings work, energy targets, self-assessments and auditing. 

Alongside the Essentials course, NABERS also provides training specialised to a number of important industries, particularly for assessors working in shopping or data centres – two key energy consumers that stand to benefit from the transparency that ratings typically bring. The organisation also offers Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) training that allows recipients to assessors apply for Building Energy Efficiency Certificates (BEECs) on behalf of building owners, conduct CBD Tenancy Lighting Assessments, and provide assessor supporting statements for exemption applications. Knowledge is also disseminated through its website, which makes a number of helpful tools available to users, which are divided into case studies, a resources library, a helpful glossary of terms, and a section dedicated to tips and tricks.

With a clear goal to maintain the current interest in building emissions, NABERS is leading the nation towards a new, sustainable future. By offering so much more than buildings accreditation, the organisation has grown to become a one-stop-shop for people and businesses seeking to learn more and deliver positive, long-lasting change.


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Apr 23, 2021

Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition

Dominic Ellis
2 min
Drax is advancing biomass following Pinnacle acquisition it reported in a trading update

Drax' recently completed acquisition of Pinnacle more than doubles its sustainable biomass production capacity and significantly reduces its cost of production, it reported in a trading update.

The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.

The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).

Drax CEO Will Gardiner said its Q1 performance had been "robust", supported by the sale of Drax Generation Enterprise, which holds four CCGT power stations, to VPI Generation.

This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.

In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.

The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.

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