Why do owners and tenants want good NABERSNZ?

Commercial property owners, managers and tenants seek buildings that perform for maximum comfort and minimum cost. The National Australian-Built Environment Rating System New Zealand (NABERSNZ) tool can help rate and track these credentials. Myra Cohen of NABERSNZ demystifies the programme for Total Property.


It’s a simple low-cost tool that rates the energy performance of commercial office buildings. A building is given a rating of between one to six stars. The more stars, the more efficient the building. There are three types of ratings: tenancy, base building and whole building rating. NABERSNZ is based on the longrunning Australian NABERS programme. Australian evidence 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 a way for owners and tenants to compare their offering to the rest of the market.

Why does energy matter?

A more efficient building has: 1) Lower operating costs-efficient buildings cost less to run and maintain, and hold their value better over time. 2) Health and wellness – light, heating and 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. 3) Sustainability – demonstrating environmental responsibility is increasingly important for many companies. Measuring and reporting energy use is a vital part of this.

How much does it cost to get rated?

The certification fees are very straightforward at $1,000 per building. Paying the assessor to complete the assessment depends on how easy it is to get hands on the data. Sometimes obtaining the data uncovers curly questions, such as whether your building is correctly metered, or is your net lettable area (NLA) correctly measured. Ultimately, the investment in getting the right data means it is much easier to year on year undertake a rating, track improvements with time and be able to publicly state performance. The main cost of a NABERSNZ rating is the assessor’s time which typically starts at $1,500 with total costs dependent on the type of rating, the size of building and the number of tenancies.

What's involved?

A qualified NABERSNZ assessor will visit the building and examine factors including annual energy use, occupancy hours and NLA. They will also check the current metering system to check compliance. You will need to obtain proof that the rentable area was collected to the Property Council New Zealand standard. If a building has undergone a retrofit and the metering system was replaced, owners will need to ensure that it is NABERSNZ compliant and that it has recorded at least 12 months’ worth of energy use data. The value is that it also helps owners and assessors work out how to improve performance, and in turn, reap future rewards.

Funding and support

The best time to lock energy efficiency into a building is during design, construction or major refurbishment for key projects. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) Business can help fund the cost of getting expert advice on any stage of a building’s design and construction to help get a project across the line. This includes bringing energy-saving practices into a building, installation of an energy monitoring and targeting system and the monitoring of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems – also known as a continuous commissioning system.

Energy saver - Te Puni Kōkiri House

Heritage buildings don't often lead the way when it comes to energy efficiency, but Te Puni Kōkiri House in Wellington has proved it's possible with impressive ratings under both the Green Star and NABERSNZ schemes. Built in 1940, the former State Insurance building at 143 Lambton Quay was lauded at the time for its innovative wavy façade and extensive use of glass, which reflected new European architectural trends. Three floors were added in the late 1980s when Te Puni Kōkiri moved in.

Owners Argosy Property completed a major retrofit of the heritage building in 2013. They ultimately achieved a 5 Green Star rating through innovations such as ultra-efficient electronically commutated (EC) fan coils as well as occupancy sensors on fan coil and fresh air controls to avoid energy waste when spaces are unoccupied. The project also surpassed the maximum Green Star benchmark for minimising construction waste, with over 90 percent diverted from landfill.

The NABERSNZ rating assessed the base building's operational energy use. Te Puni Kōkiri House achieved its 'excellent' energy efficiency rating (4 stars out of 6), with the help of metering, better insulation and updated equipment. The building uses 20 percent less energy than before the refit, and is 27 percent more efficient than the average for commercial offices.

Saatyesh Bhana, Argosy Property Asset Manager, said the NABERSNZ rating process had identified further energy saving opportunities, and they were undergoing fine-tuning to achieve these. "This type of long-term investment works out for everyone: it creates savings for our tenants, recycles an iconic heritage building, and adds value to our investment in the building," he said. Te Puni Kōkiri and Argosy Property won Public Sector category of the 2016 EECA Awards.

Watch Total Property's video on the benefits of green buildings and rating systems

Media enquiries:

Myra Cohen, Marketing Manager, NABERSNZ

Phone: 027 772 6436

Email: myra.cohen@nzgbc.org.nz