Schools and retail will soon count NABERS stars

by Sophie Berrill
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NABERS for schools and retail

The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is developing tools for schools and retail to measure, manage and improve their sustainability performance.

NABERS is an initiative by the Federal Government to measure and compare the environmental performance of Australian buildings and tenancies. 

The rating system currently measures office buildings and spaces, apartment buildings, data centres, shopping centres, public hospitals, aged care, retirement living, hotels, warehouses and cold stores. Now, as part of its expansion into more building sectors, NABERS plans to launch tools for schools and retail in the coming months.

Measuring classroom performance

According to 2022 data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, the nation has more than 9600 schools – and every single one will soon be able to achieve NABERS Energy and Water ratings.

This year, NABERS collaborated with various state and territories’ education departments to develop a portfolio-style tool as a low-cost and effective solution to help schools measure their sustainability performance. Working groups also involved consultation with leaders from several private and systemic schools, industry experts and education peak bodies.

The benchmarks are based on a vast data set from 7940 schools in diverse climate zones. 

Pilot ratings are now progressing across more than 45 schools, with the tool planned for launch at the end of 2023.

Rating more retail in 2024

The NABERS annual report for the 2023 financial year, released today, says shopping centres rated by NABERS are using less energy year-on-year. NABERS says the achievements of Australia’s leading retail asset owners over the last decade are “worthy of awards and applause”.

But shopping centres only take up 46 percent of the total retail space in Australia, according to the Shopping Centre Council of Australia. There still remains a challenge to drive down energy consumption and emissions across retail, which accounts for around 50 percent of energy use in the commercial property sector and five percent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

The NABERS team is developing a tool to rate the spaces that aren’t currently assessed by NABERS, like large supermarket tenancies, department stores and big box retailers. This tool is set for launch in mid-2024.

Read how a Sydney office achieved top NABERS and WELL ratings.

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