Adelaide has officially welcomed its first 6-star NABERS-rated office building as tenants in the city’s A-grade office market become increasingly aware of the benefits of improved environmental efficiency.
The Cbus Property-owned 50 Flinders Street office tower has become the first in South Australia to achieve the 6-star NABERS Energy Rating for ‘base building’ energy use – the highest rating that can be achieved under the ratings system.
The NABERS rating, which is a voluntary accreditation, differs from structural ratings like the Green Building Council’s Green Star measure in that it measures the ongoing operational energy efficiency of a building, with an onus on the building’s operator and tenants.
Base building energy use specifically refers to the energy use of the central services of an office building, including lifts and common area lighting. The rating is valid for 12 months.
Constructed in 2015, the tower was originally designed to achieve a 5-Star NABERS Energy Rating but Cbus Property and the buiding’s managers CBRE have subsequently made improvements to the system that controls automated aspects of the building like ventilation and power systems – leading to two consecutive 5.5 Star ratings prior to the most recent rating.
The 6-star rating follows the installation of a 66 kilowatt solar photo-voltaic system at the property during 2018, which had been operational since December and has generated around 40,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in the four months since installation, according to CBRE.
The tower also underwent an ‘indoor environment’ assessment for the first time, becoming the only building in South Australia to have done so and just one of 10 across the country to achieve a 6-star rating.
The push for improved environmental certifications is part of a broader strategy for Cbus, according to its chief executive Adrian Pozzo.
“Our aspiration is to create one of the greenest Green Star and NABERS-rated portfolios in Australia and the recent 6-Star NABERS Energy Rating awarded to our market-leading 50 Flinders Street tower in Adelaide is an impressive step towards this goal,” Mr Pozzo said.
It won’t be the last Adelaide office tower to burnish its environmental credentials either. The new GPO tower, set to be completed by September this year, will be the first in Adelaide to target combined Gold WELL and Green Star ratings. The project is aiming to attain a 6-star Green Star rating.
Andrew Bahr, CBRE’s director of office services in Adelaide, said that while 50 Flinders Street was the first to boast a 6-star NABERS rating, the Adelaide A-grade market had been clued in to the benefits of a green star rating for some time.
“Tenants understand and are educated now. Early on the NABERS system was driven by public [government] operators, but now corporate tenants understand what it means in terms of indicating a better performing building but also the boost it can provide to [employee and public] perceptions.”
The demand for higher-rated buildings was part of a broader trend towards modern constructions in the Adelaide CBD, according to Mr Bahr.
He said that vacancy levels in post-2006 constructed buildings, most of which would have “at least a 4.5-NABERS rating”, was currently less than 3 per cent, compared with an overall Adelaide office vacancy rate vacancy of “about 12-13 per cent”.
Much of the demand was driven by firms wanting to improve retention rates and keep staff happy, according to Mr Bahr, adding that employee perceptions of environmental responsibility fed directly into this.
“The flight to quality is as real here as it is anywhere else [in Australia],” Mr Bahr said.
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