NABERS Response to COVID-19
Governments, companies and people around the world are rapidly finding solutions and adapting to the existing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to this situation the team that looks after the National Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) recently released new rulings in which most office building undergoing periods of low occupancy due to shut down or quarantine will still be able to obtain a NABERS rating as it is still necessary to comply with obligations under the BEED Act.
To help our clients, we’ll address these four items:
- Actions that landlords and management agencies can undertake to minimise any negative impacts.
- The expected impacts of COVID-19 on Base Building Ratings for Offices
- The expected impacts of COVID-19 on Whole Building & Tenancy Ratings for Offices
- NABERS approach to this issue & instructions provided for accredited assessors such as HFM.
Actions to minimise any negative impacts
- Keep accurate records of which tenancies have undergone shutdowns
- Request shut-down of base building services and maintain records of the dates when this has been implemented
- Where a written request from a tenant to switch off services is received please try to ensure this occurs immediately to avoid any negative impacts on the rating.
- Store all requests in a central location to share in a future date with your assessor.
NABERS will continue to monitor the changing circumstances brought on by the spread of COVID-19 and may extend these Rulings and provide further Rulings as the situation unfolds.
The expected impacts of COVID-19 on:
Base Building Ratings for Offices
- If a space is leased and still needs base building services, then it is to be treated as “ready for occupation”, occupation days and energy consumption would be entered as normal, regardless of whether the space was tenanted or not. It is likely that most periods of shutdown would still be considered “ready for occupation” by NABERS as a lease would still be in place and tenants may require base building services to remain operational.
- If the space is leased but base building services have been asked to be shut down by the tenants or if the space is vacant then it’s considered as “not ready for occupation”.
Whole Building & Tenancy Ratings for Offices
- Not actively used by tenants: A company that has all staff working remotely. In this case, the occupation days should be entered as “0” for the period in question
- Where a space is considered as “actively use by tenants” by an assessor then NABERS has made allowance for using alternative sources of evidence for Computer count and Tenant Occupancy Surveys. Any energy use of the space would still need to be included.
- Another Assessor cannot be used due to availability;
- The risk of the site visit is deemed to be too high by an Assessor or Assessor organisation;
- The building is in lock-down, and access to the building has been limited; or
- The visit was to be conducted during the government mandated shutdown of non-essential business, starting on 23rd March 2020.
Alternative sources of evidence
NABERS allows the use of alternative sources for evidence, such as:
- Evidence from a prior site visit
- Use of non-Assessor information from a site visit, where a prior site visit cannot be used or is not available
- Use of conservative inputs where a building or tenancy is in lock-down
This Ruling can only be used with prior written approval from NABERS on a case-by-case basis, it is currently only valid until 30th April 2020 but may be extended as required.