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Supporting Australia’s net zero transition

News | 15 Jul 2020

The Future of NABERS Energy

NABERS has supported the property industry by providing an energy benchmarking tool for buildings in Australia for over 20 years, encouraging improvements in energy efficiency and the uptake of renewable energy. This year our Sustainable Portfolios Index showed that 82% of our participating offices buildings now have a net zero commitment. That represents over 5.3 million sqm or 18% of national office building stock according to the Property Council of Australia.

Two years ago, NABERS went one step further by offering Climate Active Carbon Neutral certification for buildings. We have now completed 27 accreditations under this pathway and demand is growing.

The pace of change in our customer’s expectations is increasing and energy grid emissions are falling.

Above: Annual electricity sector emissions to 2042. Source: AEMO Draft 2020 Integrated System Plan

Committed to keeping pace with this change, NABERS has spent the last twelve months collaborating with industry to determine how to improve NABERS energy rating tools to better support the property industry in this market evolution.

We’re seeing a significant shift in the property sector towards net zero emissions. NABERS’ role is to continue to provide a simple, affordable pathway for all buildings to demonstrate their commitments to renewable energy, net zero emissions from energy and carbon neutrality - Carlos Flores, Director, NABERS

The Future of NABERS Energy project has been collaborating with industry partners to explore the following areas:

  • The decarbonisation of the grid
  • How to support buildings wishing to demonstrate net zero energy emissions
  • New international guidance on accounting for carbon
  • How to support the broad range of renewable energy procurement methods
  • The project will not be complete until early 2021, but there is some early consensus emerging.

At the NABERS & CBD 2020 conference, NABERS announced two updates that will enable NABERS Energy ratings to improve accuracy and align with market trends.

Update 1: Update to the emissions factors

Emissions factors, also known as the National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) factors, are used in NABERS Energy ratings to enable the comparison of the emissions associated with the use of different energy sources. The emissions related to electricity use have been falling with the increased amount of renewable energy in the grid.

To ensure that NABERS Energy ratings accurately reflect the latest emissions related to different energy sources, NABERS will update the emissions factors used to calculate NABERS Energy ratings for all building types in July 2021.

After the initial July 2021 update, the NGA factors will be reviewed and updated periodically. NABERS will provide more details on the frequency of review very soon.

To enable users to calculate the NABERS rating using the updated NGA factors, a rating prediction tool is available on the NABERS website. Users can predict future NABERS ratings using projected emissions factors.

Update 2: NABERS Energy with GreenPower to align with International Carbon accounting protocol.

The NABERS Energy with GreenPower calculation will be updated to include two key aspects of the international greenhouse gas accounting method for electricity.

  1. The renewable energy in the grid from the RET (Renewable Energy Target) will already be considered as renewable energy in the NABERS Energy with GreenPower rating. That means that to be considered as procuring 100% renewable energy in a NABERS Energy with GreenPower rating GreenPower will only need to be purchased for approx. 80%* of the total energy consumption. *In 2020 the Renewable Power Percentage was 19.31%
  2. If an on-site renewable energy generation system generates LGCs (Large-Scale Generation Certificates), these must be voluntarily surrendered for the renewable energy to count towards the NABERS energy with GreenPower rating. If they are sold, the renewable energy consumed must be entered into the rating calculation as grid electricity. There will be no change to how on-site solar is treated in NABERS Energy ratings.

This change was previously announced to occur in July 2021, however this release has now been delayed as the NABERS Energy with GreenPower rating is under review. It is expected to come into effect towards the end of 2021 – the release date is yet to be confirmed.

Over the next few months NABERS will provide more information to help everyone prepare for these changes.

Find out more about the Future of NABERS Energy project. The consultation period is closed, but the paper and a webinar provide background information on the changes.

If you’d like to get in touch with NABERS about these changes, please contact us at nabers@environment.nsw.gov.au


As part of the consultation, NABERS hosted a Webinar on Tuesday 26 May 2020 to present the information in the consultation paper and held a Q&A session. You can watch a recording of the webinar below.