New energy rating scheme for UK offices set to improve operational energy use

A new scheme for rating the operational energy efficiency of UK offices, NABERS UK, has been launched today, to tackle the performance gap between the design and in-use energy performance of offices in the UK.

NABERS Energy ratings measure and verify the actual energy use of existing offices, providing a rating from 1-6 stars and helping building owners to accurately target, measure and communicate the energy performance of their buildings. This investment grade rating can be used to demonstrate whether offices are on a net zero carbon trajectory and provide investors and occupiers with the confidence that the buildings they own and occupy are aligned with their climate change ambitions.

BEIS Minister Kwasi Kwarteng MP spoke at the launch to endorse the scheme – and hinted that disclosure of operational building energy performance could become mandatory in the future. The government will launch a consultation on energy performance disclosure for commercial buildings towards the end of the year.

As part of NABERS UK, developers will also be able to use the Design for Performance process to target a NABERS Energy rating at the design stage of a new office development or refurbishment and verify performance when the building is occupied, overcoming the well-evidenced performance gap between design and operation. This approach is already being pioneered by 12 major UK property owners on new office developments totalling over half a million m2 across the UK.

The NABERS UK scheme has been developed via the Design for Performance initiative led by the Better Buildings Partnership, working in close collaboration with the Australian NABERS programme– which has been transformational in cutting building energy use. The scheme has been funded by several major commercial property developers and investors including British Land; Derwent London and Lendlease. It has also been backed by industry bodies including the British Council for Offices and the British Property Federation.

BRE has been confirmed as the NABERS UK administrator and will be responsible for assessor training and building certification.

Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO at Better Buildings Partnership said: “The launch of NABERS UK marks a significant milestone for this project, but more importantly a huge leap forward for the industry in measuring and verifying the actual energy performance of UK offices. This has been a truly collaborative effort from across the industry over many years. I am absolutely delighted that we now have a scheme in the UK that will transform the market for better, more energy efficient offices.”

Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Minister of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Our clear commitment to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050 means every sector of the economy must take bold action to address emissions – including by tackling the energy efficiency of our buildings. That’s why I’m delighted to see the NABERS UK scheme being launched today to do just that, underlining the integral part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan that tackling emissions from our workplaces will play.”