The latest NABERS report indicates that the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program has led to a surge in the adoption of sustainability and efficiency measures by players in the property sector.

According to the report, the number of office buildings possessing a NABERS energy rating has tripled since the launch of the CBD program five years ago, from 379 in 2009/10 to 1,260 in 2013/14.

Tom Grosskopf, director of the Metropolitan Branch of thte Office of Environment and Heritage, said the CBD program had played a critical role in heightening the effectiveness of NABERS.

“NABERS and CBD have been key factors in the shift towards increased energy efficiency in the property industry over the last ten years,” he said. “The CBD Program has amplified the impact of NABERS Energy in the office sector, by increasing the number of buildings participating in the program and the energy savings achieved.”

While this increase in NABERS-rated buildings is impressive in and of itself, perhaps the most noteworthy accomplishments of the CBD program has been compelling those involved in the property sector to give greater consideration to sustainability issues, as evidenced by changes in the nature of accredited properties.

“The CBD program captures segments of the office market that had previously had limited engagement in energy efficiency,” said the report. “The 1,413 buildings that obtained their first NABERS Energy ratings once CBD was released have a different profile than the buildings that historically participated in the NABERS program. They are smaller in size, a greater proportion are outside capital city central business districts, and they perform lower than the rest of the office market in terms of energy efficiency.”

In addition to a surge in the number of NABERS-rated buildings, the calibre of the ratings has also undergone a major increase. The number of buildings with ratings of five stars or greater has more than tripled in the past several years, from 77 in 2010/11 to 264 in 2013/14, while the average star rating is now 3.6, for a year-on-year gain of five per cent.

The upshot of this increase in the number of NABERS-rated buildings and the rise in ratings calibre has been an increase in energy efficiency and concomitant decline in carbon emissions.

“Since CBD was introduced to the property market, the average energy use in offices has decreased by 8.7 per cent and average emissions by 11.5 per cent,” said Grosskopf. “These are the sort of market changes that most sectors would like to achieve: it means increased financial returns while also turning the property sector into a leader of sustainability.

Despite its upbeat contents, the NABERS report arrives at a troubled time for Australia’s CBD program, with many members of industry concerned that a review conducted by ACIL Allen Consulting at the behest of the Department of Industry could result in the scheme’s axing.