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The green advantage – why you should rate the environmental impact of your building

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Whether you own, manage or lease an office building you should know it's performing for maximum comfort and minimum cost. NABERSNZ can help

The green advantage – why you should rate the environmental impact of your building

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NABERSNZ is the energy rating system for office buildings based on the long-running Australian NABERS programme. Data from Australia shows that buildings with good NABERS ratings are more desirable to tenants – they have better occupancy rates and tend to have longer lease terms. It's also an excellent way to see exactly how you compare to the rest of the market.

Green Star rates the potential environmental impact of design at design phase and/or once built, whereas NABERS rates the actual environmental impact by performance of a building in use.

There are three types of NABERSNZ ratings – tenancy, base building, and whole building – each one eligible for one to six stars.

There are several key reasons that energy-use matters – all of which can impact on your business.

A more efficient building has many advantages for your staff and your business bottom line. One important factor is lower operating costs – essentially, efficient buildings cost less to run and maintain, and hold their value better over time.

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Another all-important factor, and also one that can ultimately effect your bottom line, is health and wellness. Office lighting, heating and general air conditioning have a direct impact on staff comfort and productivity. A well-tuned building responds to occupants' needs, creating a more pleasant work space and so greatly reducing absenteeism.

Then there is your image – in modern times, turning green is a matter of social, even global, responsibility. So showing environmental care and responsibility in your building or workplace is increasingly vital for many companies. Measuring and reporting energy use is a vital part of this.

The road to green assessment and certification is relatively simple considering the business benefits. A qualified NABERSNZ Assessor will visit the building and examine factors including annual energy use, occupancy hours and the net lettable area (NLA).

They will also check the current metering system for compliance and you will need to obtain proof that the calculation of the NLA complies with the PCNZ/ BOMA standard, often by certified drawings.

Plus, if you've undergone a retrofit and replaced your metering system, you'll need to ensure that it's NABERSNZ compliant and that it has recorded at least 12 months' worth of energy use data.

The long-term value is that this data also helps you or your Assessor to work out how to improve your performance, which of course reaps you rewards over the years to come.

The effort needed to meet the requirements of the Assessor to actually complete the assessment depends on how easy it is to get your hands on the data. Sometimes obtaining the data uncovers curly questions – such as whether your building is correctly metered, or is your NLA correctly measured? Ultimately, the investment in getting the right data means it's much easier to undertake a year-on-year rating, track your improvements over time and be able to publicly state your performance.

So when getting a NABERSNZ rating, the overall costs depend on the type of rating, the size of the building and the number of tenancies. The largest cost of a NABERSNZ rating is the Assessor's time – typically starting at $1500 – while the actual certification fees involved are straight-forward and relatively modest, at $1000 per building.

Going green is good for your business – and also for our country's energy supplies – and funding and resources are available to help you along the road.

The best time to lock energy efficiency into your building is during the design, construction or major refurbishment for major projects. EECA Business can fund up to 100% of the cost of getting expert advice on any stage of your building's design and construction.

Companies with energy management strategies usually save much more energy than those without because they continually review and manage energy use across their whole organisation.

EECA Business may fund up to 40% – to a maximum of $100,000 – of the cost of expert help to bring energy saving practices into your company. A monitoring and targeting system tells you in real time how your building is using energy and when things aren't working, shaving up to 20% off your annual energy bill.

To perform at their best, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems need ongoing adjustment, taking changes in energy demand from staff or equipment into account – a process known as continuous commissioning. EECA may also fund up to 40% of the cost of a continuous commissioning system to help get your project over the line.

You can find out more about NABERSNZ by visitingwww.nabersnz.govt.nz

First published date: 21 June 2017

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