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Case study: How NABERS provides easy access to Energy Saving Certificates

Case Study | 24 Sep 2020

With one of Australia’s largest property portfolios, Dexus has leveraged its NABERS Energy ratings on more than 30 properties in New South Wales to claim $2.4 million in Energy Saving Certificates.

Energy saving certificates explained

The NSW Energy Savings Scheme, or ESS, aims to drive down energy consumption by encouraging organisations to invest in energy saving projects.

When a business can prove that it has reduced its energy use without also reducing its production or service levels, it can earn Energy Saving Certificates, or ESCs.

ESCs are the currency of the ESS, and are calculated based on the amount of energy saved when the business undertakes energy saving activities – like upgrading heating, ventilation and cooling systems or finding ways to enhance the efficiency of existing systems.

ESCs are then purchased by electricity retailers and other organisations to meet their energy saving targets and regulatory obligations.

In March 2020, the new and improved NABERS baseline method was launched, making it easier for building owners and asset managers to create ESCs.

ESCs can be generated for any building type with a NABERS Energy rating – from offices to shopping centres, hotels and public hospitals, data centres and apartments.

NABERS: An on-ramp to ESCs

Dexus has been generating Energy Savings Certificates on 30-plus properties using the NABERS baseline method since 2012.

During that time, Dexus has generated more than 154,000 ESCs – almost half of all ESCs created by scheme participants using the NABERS method. A massive 145,000-megawatt hours of energy consumption has been avoided over that timeframe.

The big takeaway for us is that we’ve generated $2.43 million of revenue from the ESCs we've created and traded to date. The proceeds offset initial project outlays, making energy efficiency more affordable. Rob Sims, Senior Manager, Group Sustainability and Energy, Dexus

While using a NABERS rating is just one way to create ESCs, “the rigorous process” of achieving a NABERS rating “provides a holistic approach to quantifying energy savings,” says Rob Sims, Senior Manager for Group Sustainability and Energy at Dexus.

“Other methods have fairly small project-level boundaries – such as a lighting upgrade – while using NABERS allows us to combine a range of technologies and operational measures into one simplified approach.”

As all commercial office space of 1,000 sqm or more must achieve a NABERS Energy rating as part of the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Program, leveraging that rating makes sense, Rob adds.

Dexus drives energy efficiency

  • 1,053,157 sqm of office space rated 5 star NABERS Energy or more in 2020
  • 50.1% reduction in group office emissions intensity since FY08
  • More than $164 million saved through portfolio energy efficiency since FY08
  • 154,000 ESCs created since 2012
  • $2.43 million in value derived through ESCs trades to date
  • 145,000 MWh of energy avoided
  • On track to achieve net zero emissions by 2030.

A deep dive into ESCs

As an Accredited Certificate Provider, Dexus applied to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

“Once you get through the administration hurdles of becoming an ACP, ESCs can be an effective way to reduce the payback on energy efficiency projects,” Rob explains.

The NABERS baseline rating of each building then determines how many ESCs can be claimed.

ESCs are created from the improvements in NABERS star ratings. So, if you have a property that isn’t improving its energy efficiency over time, the ESCs will dissipate.

Using the NABERS baseline method allows building owners to create three years of ESCs in advance – which means funding for upgrades can be accessed quickly. Alternately, like Dexus, building owners can choose to create ESCs annually for up to seven years using their latest NABERS certification.

“Using the NABERS baseline method gives us the flexibility to implement a few different energy efficiency projects and combine the savings achieved,” Rob adds.

Dexus uses an internal tracker “to ensure all the energy savings we generate remain tied to each building.” When Dexus monetises the ESCs, “we reimburse the property for the benefit – and that recoups the investment in previous projects or is used to further enhance the building over time.”

Leadership in action

Dexus has a long list of case studies that demonstrate how NABERS Energy ratings are driving down emissions and enhancing energy efficiency:

  • 44 Market Street in Sydney improved its NABERS Energy rating from 2.5 to 5 stars and cut energy consumption by more than 50% after Dexus upgraded the air conditioning plant and controls including new chillers
  • 101 George Street in Parramatta improved its NABERS Energy rating from 5 to 5.5 stars and cut energy consumption by 30% after Dexus upgraded the building management system
  • Governor Phillip Tower at Sydney’s 1 Farrer Place achieved a 5 star NABERS Energy rating following a multi-year capital works program and building management system upgrade

Participating in the NSW Energy Savings Scheme through the creation of Energy Savings Certificates (ESCs) leverages activity we are already undertaking to improve the sustainability of our portfolio. ESCs are the icing on the cake – by reducing payback periods, they provide the sweetener to property managers to undertake energy saving projects. -Rob Sims, Senior Manager, Group Sustainability and Energy, Dexus

NABERS can help with your next steps

  1. Do your homework: Visit the ESS website to learn more about how the Energy Savings Scheme works.
  2. Appoint an Accredited Certificate Provider: Choose an ACP from the registered list or become an ACP yourself.
  3. Obtain a NABERS baseline rating: Gather and validate your data, then identify areas for improvement.
  4. Boost your rating: Take action to reduce your energy consumption during the next 12 months. Collect data, track your performance and enjoy the savings.

NABERS is offering fee-free ratings for a year from 1 July, so the only cost to building owners will be the assessors fee. There’s never been a better time to set your building’s energy efficiency baseline.