There is significant evidence suggesting that buildings do not perform as well as anticipated at design stage. This discrepancy between design performance and in-use performance, known as ‘performance gap’, remains an active challenge for buildings on their path to becoming genuinely low carbon.
Currently in the UK, Governmental endorsed methods of assessing energy efficiency tend to lack in accuracy and clarity. Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), required when buildings are sold or rented, provide a rating based on theoretical performance against fuel price, resulting in a somewhat confusing appraisal.
Display Energy Certificates (DECs), designed to rank commercial properties based on their in-use performance, regarding their in-use energy consumption have also shown several inconsistencies when validating data.
Both schemes have at times been heavily criticised for the quality of their qualified assessors and the impact their individual knowledge can have on the results. Andrea Carvajal – Greengage’s Head of Energy & Carbon – is a qualified EPC Assessor and is more than aware of the limitations of these schemes can have when providing an insightful perspective of a building’s performance.
The Better Building Partnership (BBP), through its members, has recognised a much-needed response to this issue. After a trial period, a progressive new scheme NABERS UK was launched, aiming to act as a bridge between clients, designers, contractors and tenants, incentivising collaboration to accurately monitor and communicate the energy performance of buildings.
NABERS UK (based on the Australian rating system with the same name) looks at the energy performance of new and existing offices and seeks to raise awareness of the value high performing buildings bring to the market. When implemented in Australia, the initiative resulted in tenants requesting highly rated assets, encouraging landlords and owners to respond accordingly.
Launched on 26th November, NABERS UK is a reliable and easy to understand sustainability benchmark for the built environment. It provides a rating from one to six stars for buildings efficiency, with one representing poor performance and six a highly performing office. This ranking system provides context against similar buildings, giving a benchmark for progress. NABERS UK measures actual impact, not intent and helps to identify areas for savings and improvements.
A great part of the success of the scheme in Australia has been the response of the Government and their full support and commitment to it.
Whilst the potential of NABERS UK is clear to see, the most significant challenge will be the voluntary integration of this programme in to an already disjointed and cluttered landscape of green credentials. As an industry, through legislative changes, we need to ensure programmes such as this becomes an integral part of our path towards a net zero carbon future and a step forward in the fight against climate change.
If you would like to discuss what NABERS UK could mean to you or any other aspect of energy and carbon in the built environment, we would love to hear from you. Either give us a call for a chat on 0203 544 4000 or email our Head of Energy and Carbon, Andrea Carvajal.