A new energy rating scheme to assess the performance of offices across the UK has been launched, to help businesses reach net zero emissions.

NABERS UK Energy for Offices aims to bridge the gap between the design and actual in-use energy performance of office buildings. The scheme was introduced in November 2020 and replicates the highly successful NABERS Australia. Just under 2,000 office buildings have been rated under the Australian scheme, and it is hoped the UK scheme will emulate this.

Star rating

Using a 6 Star scale, NABERS UK is a simple rating scheme for the energy efficiency of office buildings across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It rates a building based on its ‘base’ that includes services such as heating and cooling systems and lifts and lobby lighting. It is designed to help building owners to understand their building’s performance versus other similar buildings, providing a benchmark for progress whilst identifying areas for savings and improvements.

It is hoped such transparency will enable building owners to demonstrate a competitive advantage with existing and prospective investors and occupiers.

The scheme will be governed by a Steering Committee comprised of NABERS, the Better Buildings Partnership, with BRE the UK administrator responsible for assessor training and building certification. The first cohort of assessors are now qualified to perform Energy for Offices ratings on behalf of building owners.

Dr Shamir Ghumra, Head of Building Performance Services at BRE, said: “Having a building that has a lower environmental impact and lower running costs, and being able to communicate that with confidence and simplicity is going to stand building owners in good stead over the long-term – and the new NABERS UK Energy for Offices scheme will help them facilitate this. Ensuring our buildings and infrastructure are equipped to play a part in the global fight against climate change is crucial, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with NABERS to help drive this forward.”

Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO at the Better Buildings Partnership, added: “It is fantastic to see the NABERS UK Energy for Offices scheme launched to the market. The industry has called for a scheme that enables property owners to assess, benchmark, verify and disclose the energy performance of their assets for many years. We hope that it will drive the significant improvement in energy efficiency in commercial offices that is urgently needed if the industry is to deliver on its net zero ambitions.”

NABERS UK offers two products: NABERS Energy and NABERS Design for Performance. NABERS Energy measures the efficiency of an office building and rates its performance. It is aimed at existing office buildings. NABERS Design for Performance is the process whereby a developer or owner commits to design, build and commission a new office development or major refurbishment to achieve a specific NABERS Energy rating.

Mandatory performance-based ratings on the way? 

NABERS UK is a voluntary scheme, but the government is looking at it it as a model for a mandatory framework which rates the energy and carbon performance of commercial and industrial buildings above 1,000m. A consultation was launched earlier this year to inform the shape of the scheme, which is set for launch in April 2022.