For the first time since 1998, NABERS is updating its coefficiencies used for calculating a buildings’ energy star rating. These changes to NABERS ratings may be causing some businesses to worry about whether they have the best solution in place that adjusts to change in the way their buildings operate.

What is the change?

NABERS has decided to update its rating system to reflect the current electricity mix, and reward buildings that are using more renewable energy sources. These NABERS rating changes come as a result of more renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric energy penetrating the grid as building owners strive for a net-zero future.

This means buildings with a less carbonised energy source should expect their NABERS star rating to increase, while buildings that rely heavily on gas will see a decrease in their ratings.

What factors are involved with this change?

With recent impacts like the shutting down of coal-fired power plants like Hazelwood in 2017 to invest exclusively in renewable energy in Victoria, scope 2 emissions factors have been reduced. Scope 2 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions produced when purchasing steam, electricity, heating, or cooling – they are indirect emissions that occur at the facility where the power is generated.

With more power plants like Hazelwood closing their doors, the scope 2 emissions factors have gone from 1.33 kG CO2-e / kWh to 1.02 kG CO2-e / kWh. This result could see the NABERS rating of your building increase or decrease depending on your current electricity split maintaining its current course.

What could my star rating look like in five to ten years?

The increased and accelerated use of more renewable energy in the grid is driving changes in the coefficient.

In the future, there are plans to shut down more fossil fuel power plants and invest more in wind, solar, and hydro plants. Dictated by the even larger use of renewable energy in the grid, there are more planned future amendments to come in 2025 and 2030.

This investment will result in the CO2 equivalent of each kWh used in the next 10 years decreasing drastically. NABERS announced that they will be updating their coefficient every 5 years, with the next update being 2025. To give businesses and building owners an idea of the changes, NABERS has provided predictions on how these coefficients could look in 2025 and 2030.

Predictive scenarios of NABERS changes

The examples below are based on the ‘fast decarbonisation scenario’.

The graphs show predictions of future NABERS ratings in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane based on maintaining their current energy split between electricity and gas. The below analysis depicts the buildings that were assessed as exactly 5.50 stars; meaning if it would use one more kWh or MJ it would become a 5 star NABERS rated building.

Melbourne Fast Decarbonisation Scenarios: Benefits to use 100% Electricity

Fast Decarbonisation Scenarios Melbourne

Each line in this graph represents different splits between electricity and gas consumption – different energy use breakdowns provide different results.

From the first of July, 2021, most of the buildings will maintain their current star rating and only buildings that use less than 50% electricity will be slightly penalised. In 2025 and 2030 we are seeing that buildings that have a higher percentage of electricity usage will be rewarded and their NABERS star rating will increase. This is especially evident for the building that uses 100% electricity with a rating increase from 5.5 to 5.65 by 2025 and 5.99 by 2030.

Sydney Fast Decarbonisation Scenarios: Benefits to use 100% Electricity

Fast Decarbonisation Scenarios Sydney

Disproportionation between 25% and 100% electricity usage creates a greater incentive for people to improve and further invest in electrification of the assets.

The more gas you use, the more difficult it is to achieve a higher NABERS star rating in the future. Sydney’s biggest impact will be a drop of 1.5 stars by 2030 if they continue to use 25% electricity, this is in general applicable to all buildings that use cogeneration and trigeneration systems on their premises.

Brisbane Fast Decarbonisation Scenarios: Penalties drive huge incentives to use 100% electricity

Fast Decarbonisation Scenarios Brisbane

Brisbane buildings would face the most dramatic change, with a possible drop of 2 Stars for the building that uses an excessive amount of the GAS by 2030.

On the other hand, there is relatively little improvement of the NABERS rating results even when assets will be fully electrified in comparison to the obsolete Ratings (i.e conducted prior to July 2021). This means buildings will need to implement further energy reductions to pursue a higher NABERS Star. In QLD 100% electrified buildings will improve from 5.5 to just 5.56 Stars; any assets below 95% electrification rate will result in a drop in NABERS Rating by 2030.

How can we help?

Conservia provides financially guaranteed energy saving results and NABERS improvement. We take a holistic approach to ensure your building reduces greenhouse gas emissions and ongoing operational costs. Conservia takes the responsibility and accountability of the results, mitigating risk of investment from our clients. We design, implement and tune energy and water conservation measures to ensure smooth and effective transition into a sustainable future.

Our main focus is on achieving measurable outcomes, such as energy and water reductions, improvement of NABERS energy ratings and NABERS indoor air quality ratings.

If you’re concerned or curious about the recent NGA changes and how it might affect your NABERS rating, contact us here. We’ll make sure you won’t be left behind. 

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We’re building a future towards net zero carbon emission assets. Fund your project through energy savings and start achieving your net zero and NABERS rating goals today.

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