Building a more consistent and compatible approach to rating tools

A new agreement between Australia's two leading environmental rating tools for buildings - Green Star and NABERS - will deliver a more consistent and compatible approach to building rating.

A memorandum of understanding between the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), which manages Green Star, the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) and the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW), which administers NABERS, outlines the parties' commitment to share information on rating tool development, calculators, benchmarks and methodologies to strengthen both rating systems.

Speaking at the opening session of Green Cities 2010 in Melbourne recently, the Chief Executive of the GBCA, Romilly Madew, said: "We are committed to working together to develop a common language for both rating tools and the metrics that underpin them.

"This will deliver greater compatibility between the assessment of building attributes covered by Green Star and performance of key impact areas such as energy, water and waste, which are assessed by NABERS."

DECCW's Manager Built Environment, Matthew Clark, said the collaboration will help to close the loop between the design and construction professions and those who ultimately operate and occupy a building.

"This commitment to work together and share knowledge will result in more sustainable outcomes for Australian buildings," Mr Clark said.

The agreement has already received solid support from industry, with the Chief Executive of the Property Council of Australia, Peter Verwer commenting: "the marketplace will welcome this strong signal of collaboration."

The next step is the formation of a working group which will consider, scope and direct specific projects to improve the technical consistency and general compatibility between the tools.

"By linking the design and performance of buildings, we will be able to clearly demonstrate the opportunities to reduce the environmental impacts that exist at different stages of a building's life cycle," Ms Madew said.

About Green Star
The Green Building Council of Australia launched the Green Star environmental rating system for buildings in 2003. Green Star evaluates the green attributes of building projects in nine categories, including energy and water efficiency, indoor environment quality and materials. Green Star rating tools are currently available or in development for a variety of sectors, including commercial offices (design, construction and interior fitouts), retail centres, schools and universities, multi-unit residential dwellings and healthcare facilities. The GBCA has certified more than 220 Green Star projects, with a further 460 currently registered for certification.

NABERS, or the National Australian Built Environment Rating System, is a government initiative launched nationally in 2000. NABERS measures and compares environmental performance, communicating the actual impact of a building in a simple and intuitive manner to owners, tenants and the community. NABERS measures a range of environmental impact categories, including energy, water, waste and indoor environment, and offers tools for commercial offices, hotels, hospitals and homes. To date, office buildings containing more than 10.5 million m2 of space, or about 50% of the national office market, have rated their energy efficiency using NABERS Energy. On average, these buildings have reduced their emissions by 13%. NABERS is managed by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water on behalf of the federal, state and territory governments.