How does your building rate in terms of energy and environmental performance? Is it energy efficient, water efficient and doing its part to reduce emissions?
How green is your building?
The importance of eco-friendliness and sustainability is increasing every year, and the construction, building and property management industries are under pressure to step up.
New and existing residential and commercial structures are looking to identify and implement ways to be more planet-friendly. The benefits are twofold: a better ‘green’ rating and a more cost-effective solution for residents and tenants.
Measuring your green rating
NABERS is a national rating system which can track the environmental performance of Australian buildings, tenancies and homes. This system uses a six-star scale to measure the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment.
To provide an understanding of your building’s green rating, NABERS compares the performance of your building to the performance of other similar buildings in the same location. The system bases its rating on 12 months of real, measurable information about a building or tenancy, such as energy and water bills or waste consumption data.
Your rating will take into consideration:
-The climate where your building or workspace operates
-The building’s operational characteristics (such as opening hours in shopping centres)
-The level of services provided (such as heated swimming pool areas in hotels)
-The energy sources it uses
-Its size and occupancy.
Once you have a rating from NABERS, you can understand how your building is performing. If areas for improvement are identified, you can set meaningful targets to make your building or tenancy more efficient.
Improving your building’s green rating
A green rating review is a practical tool which can be used to reduce operating costs and limit the environmental impact of your premises.
Once you have a green rating, you can consider improvements including:
Upgrading air conditioning to a more cost-effective, planet-friendly system
Installing energy efficient lighting to cut electricity use by up to 75 per cent
Ensuring your building management system allows for better control of lighting, heating and cooling systems
Installing shading, insulation and double glazing to reduce the need for air conditioning
Recycling water across plant irrigation systems
Reducing the building resident or users’ dependence on cars
Limiting the day to day consumption of materials.
Green building examples
According to fifthestate.com.au, 46 per cent of Sydney and 28.8 per cent of Melbourne’s CBD commercial floorspace is certified green.
Some of the greenest buildings in Australia boast 50 per cent less water use than the average Australian building. They produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and recycle significant amounts of waste.
One green building example is Sydney’s Central Park. Designed with sustainability in mind, Central Park has the biggest MBR recycled water facility in the world, recycling rainwater, stormwater and irrigation water to be used around the building. Central Park has its own low-carbon natural gas power plant, a rooftop garden and a vertical garden on the exterior walls.
One of Melbourne’s best-known green structures is Council House 2. This CBD building has a gas-powered co-generation plant (electricity and heating), which creates enough electricity to supply 30 per cent of the building’s needs. The building also has 23 solar panels to power over 50 per cent of its hot water requirements, plus wind turbines on the roof to generate additional electricity.
What’s interesting to note is green office buildings and commercial spaces are increasingly in demand. Government departments, corporate tenants and investors are seeking to work and operate from environmentally responsible buildings.
Any Australian building can contact NABERS for an environmental performance assessment. Once you have the information, you can use it to reduce costs, minimise environmental impact and improve the value of your building.