Can Australian energy rating approach help UK offices?

New research is looking at the potential to apply an Australian energy rating approach to UK offices. With the backing of the Better Buildings Partnership, a team led by Verco and including BSRIA, Arup and UBT has begun a four-month feasibility study to develop a prototype UK scheme which has the potential to deliver the energy performance specified in client briefs, closing the gap between designed and actual performance. The concept embraces the ‘design for performance’ approach pioneered in Australia, where very energy efficient new office buildings are achieved and verified by investment-grade energy ratings, using its NABERS scheme.

The study is being funded and overseen by office development players: British Land, Legal & General Property, Stanhope, TH Real Estate, Laing O’Rourke and the energy simulation company EDSL. It has the support of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, British Council for Offices, British Property Federation and UK Green Building Council. In addition to providing technical assistance, UBT is funding expert input on the Australian scheme from Paul Bannister of Energy Action, Canberra, who helped to develop NABERS Energy.

In Australia, clients and their teams sign up to, and then follow, a “commitment agreement” protocol to design, construct and manage their buildings to achieve agreed levels of actual in-use performance. This process is underwritten by the credibility of the NABERS scheme.

Verco technical director Robert Cohen said, “NABERS has not only transformed the status of energy efficiency in the whole procurement and construction process, but has made sustaining efficient in-use operation a boardroom priority for property owners.”

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