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Oct—01

How to improve your NABERS rating

It’s official: buildings contribute up to one third of the world’s greenhouse gases.

Consider then the impact we can make by redesigning our cities to be more sustainable and less destructive to the natural world.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that modern planners, architects, and businesses alike are moving towards ‘Green Buildings’ – especially when their benefits have been proven to not only combat climate change, but also to save greatly on long-term operational costs, reducing energy, water consumption and maintenance costings.

​What is NABERS?


‘Sustainability’ has become a buzzword, one that doesn’t always guarantee an environmentally-friendly, carbon-neutral build. How can we know for certain which of our buildings are excelling? Enter NABERS (or National Australian Built Environment Rating System). Using a 6 star scale, NABERS helps Australian building owners understand how their asset impacts the environment. NABERS ratings are legally required for commercial building owners/managers where spaces within office buildings of 1000 square metres or more.

But how does it work? Each building is certified after looking at its energy, water, waste and indoor environment ratings. This provides a benchmark for success while verifying the sustainability of a project.

The benefits of a good NABERS score


Achieving a high score may make your building more attractive for the right tenants with high-performing businesses looking to make a change.

Understanding how your building works may lead to reductions in operational costs and emissions.

What makes a building rate highly for NABERS?


From energy to ecology, aspects that will make a building rate highly for NABERS include: is the design low-impact? Will it be carbon-neutral? How durable is the design? Will it be able to be adapted in the face of climate change? Will it protect the area’s biodiversity?

Method Recycling Stations have been shown to help divert waste from landfill to an exceedingly high degree, and can be easily adapted to add new waste streams. Effective recycling bins, designed to be out in the open, promote sustainable behaviours by introducing accountability into a space.

Other ways to increase your rating in the waste category include using reclaimed and recycled materials in construction, and organising waste service providers that will work with your needs.

This video helps explain NABERS ratings:


How can we make existing buildings more sustainable?

Buildings can be refurbished to improve your NABERS rating – whether this is remodelling or adapting the existing building.

Materials

  • Can the materials in your refurbishment be more environmentally friendly, for example by having a higher recycled content?
  • Can they help to minimise both carbon and water in your building by consisting of lower amounts of these?
  • Can they have a longer lifespan or be more durable?
  • Can they be sourced locally?

Waste

  • Can waste be minimised through your project cycle, with elements retained, reused or recycled?
  • Can Method Recycling Stations be added to ensure recycling is effective within your building and waste is diverted from landfill?

Water

  • Can you install tools that will help you harvest rainwater or recycle greywater?
  • Can you specify and install water-efficient fixtures and fittings?

Energy

  • Can you install energy-efficient heating and cooling systems?
  • Can you use LED lighting or tools that will better insulate your building?
  • Can you replace air conditioners that are more than 10 years old?

Here’s how to find the right architect to ensure your NABERS certification is high.


If you're looking to build rather than refurbish, you'll need to make sure you do your research before enlisting an architect to turn your sustainability dreams into a reality. Have they worked on previous projects that have been recognised by NABERS? Are they qualified to complete your build with the level of knowledge required?

The architect should also be able to translate the clients ideas into reality, using both common architectural sense, and the most up to date technology and methods. This might include solar panels, thermal mass building construction, green materials, including wood, stone, or earth (or even recycled waste materials, such as tyres or glass or plastic bottles).