NABERS: New energy rating scheme for offices available in UK
A new energy rating scheme for UK offices has officially launched this week in a bid to help businesses reach net-zero targets by bridging the gap between the design and in-use energy performance of their buildings.
NABERS UK was introduced in November 2020 to help address performance gaps in current energy efficiency ratings that don’t necessarily account for the difference between design intentions and actual, real-world operational performance.
Managed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) the scheme replicates the well-established NABERS Australian rating scheme and currently provides energy efficiency ratings for office buildings across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
BRE confirmed this week that the NABERS UK Energy for Offices rating scheme has now been fully rolled out. It is designed to rate a building based on its “base” that includes services such as heating and cooling systems. This enables building owners to better understand and control energy consumption. For tenants and investors, the office scheme creates a comparison based on landlord services that clearly outlines the energy efficiency of a building.
BRE’s head of building performance services Dr Shamir Ghumra said: “Having a building that has a lower environmental impact and lower running costs, and being able to communicate that with confidence and simplicity is going to stand building owners in good stead over the long-term – and the new NABERS UK Energy for Offices scheme will help them facilitate this.
“Ensuring our buildings and infrastructure are equipped to play a part in the global fight against climate change is crucial, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with NABERS to help drive this forward.”
Under the UK’s Non-Domestic National Energy Efficiency Data Framework (ND-NEED) there are around 1,656,000 non-domestic buildings in England and Wales as of March 2020. Total energy consumption across these buildings sits at 293TWh, with factories (34% of energy demand) and offices (10%) acting as two of the most energy-intensive building types.
The Energy White Paper, published late last year, sets out a commitment for these buildings to be at Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band B by 2030, up from the current E band. Research from Evora found that around 85% of existing commercial buildings in England and Wales would require improvements, at a cost of around £5bn collectively.
The rating system for NABERS UK works as a star system for the performance of a building at an operational level, with the scale ranging from 0-6. Traditional design-based ratings, such as EPCs, do not consider all sources of energy use within a building and overlook many important loads.
NABERS UK measures and verifies recorded energy usage from existing buildings, rather than estimates, to provide more accurate energy performance data for building owners. Additionally, NABERS UK also covers a Design for Performance (DfP) framework for developers that can help in putting actual energy performance targets into the delivery of new projects. DfP attempts to simulate the office space as it is expected to operate.
NABERS UK’s product manager Farah Syed said: “We are very excited to launch NABERS UK Energy for Offices here in the UK. It is a fantastic product that will help drive significant improvements to the energy efficiency of offices, as we have already seen in Australia, the origin of NABERS. Energy for Offices will be a key enabler of the change needed for industry to succeed in achieving net-zero targets.”
The scheme will be governed by a Steering Committee that also includes BRE and the Better Buildings Partnership. BRE has already trained the first batch of assessors under the new scheme.
The Business Guide to Net-Zero Carbon Buildings
With buildings now accounting for more than half of total city emissions on average, it’s clear that urgent and dramatic action is required to accelerate the decarbonisation of the built environment. In addition, the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has seen those that are able to work from home, creating a new dynamic for the energy use and management of corporate buildings.
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