Ratings Hit The Market

Around 8 weeks after the launch of NABERSNZ, the first certified ratings are being publicly released.  The 3 star rating of the Treasury’s Wellington office at 1 The Terrace (Precinct Properties) was first out of the blocks.  Auckland Council has this week received a 3.5 star NABERSNZ rating of their offices at 35 Graham Street.  The scheme, which measures the energy efficiency of office buildings, benchmarks typical offices at 2.5 to 3 stars, so both buildings have put in respectable performances.

The organisations who commissioned these NABERSNZ ratings aren’t planning to rest on their laurels.  Auckland Council Chief Executive Doug McKay has already confirmed that the rating of 35 Graham Street is just the start – the Council will be looking at what can be done to boost the energy efficiency of the building.  McKay also intends to use NABERSNZ on other commercial offices, including the former ASB building at 135 Albert Street, which is undergoing a ‘green’ fit-out in advance of the Council’s occupation.

With only two NABERSNZ ratings released, we’re far from having a representative sample of data from which any firm conclusions can be drawn.  However, from my involvement in preparing the rating for 35 Graham Street, it seems that a ‘respectable’ rating is an accessible ambition for most offices.  Those that want to excel will naturally need to go a little further; EECA and NZGBC appear to have got it right then.

The reactions to receiving a NABERSNZ rating are quite telling.  The instant, perhaps instinctive response of ‘okay, but what could it be?’ hints at the real value of NABERSNZ:  A tool that permits reliable measurement of the performance of your building against its competition, as well as a benchmark for targeted self-improvement.

With time and sufficient data, a clearer picture will emerge as to the scale of benefits of occupying and investing in energy efficient offices.  IPD (who compile the NZ Green Property Index) confirmed at a recent Property Council event that they fully expect NABERSNZ to follow the established trend in Australia.  Across the Tasman, higher NABERS rated buildings produce consistently higher financial returns:  A point that won’t have been missed by some of the leading NZ property funds intending to obtain NABERSNZ ratings for their buildings.

Michael Gray is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Energy Assessor at Prendos

This article appeared in the National Business Review on 9 August 2013

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