In a recent development, NABERS have decided that it will no longer pursue the development of a normalising factor to correct COVID-19 affected data in their latest ruling (updated: June 10th). Further, they will take a ‘business as usual’ approach to the treatment of data collected during the COVID-19 affected period and will instead focus on providing additional clarification and guidance to help the Accredited Assessors.

As a result of this approach, the moratorium on the use of data impacted by the COVID-19 period has been lifted. Therefore, rating periods for current and future rating applications will adhere to the requirements set out in the NABERS rules without any additional requirements – ie. Energy and Water for Offices v4.0 for all commercial office building ratings. The submission period for all ratings has also been reverted to 120 days from the end of the rating period as per these rules (this was previously temporarily increased to 180 days).

In cases when an Assessor is not able to conduct a site visit due to travel restrictions, illness or quarantine, the rules for NABERS ratings allow for another Assessor accredited in the same rating type to conduct a site visit or spot measurement. Other methods proposed include (i) Use of a prior site visit, (ii) use of a non-Assessor information from a site visit, where a prior site visit cannot be used or is not available, (iii) use of conservative inputs where a building or tenancy is in lockdown for access due to COVID-19, and (iv) a combination of the first 3 methods.

This is valid for NABERS Energy and Water ratings for Offices, Hotels, Shopping Centres, Apartment Buildings, NABERS Energy ratings for Data Centres and IE ratings for Offices. For conducting on-site spot measurements, NABERS rules allow for measurements to be made by ‘…a qualified Engineer or Indoor Environment Professional, with certification of qualifications’. This also implies subcontracting the on-site measurements. Appropriate documentation and evidence will have to be maintained and presented to NABERS during the audits. If an Assessor is uncertain of the evidence type or any information provided in the ruling, they should seek clarification from NABERS prior to rating lodgement.

Finally, exemption(s) for any part of this ruling can also be applied with NABERS prior to the submission of a rating application and NABERS will decide on a case-by-case basis. Exemptions may be granted for situations such as:

  • Where the energy and water consumption or the HVAC service level of the premises has not significantly changed;
  • Where occupancy levels are normal;
  • Where only a small part of the rating period is within the COVID-19 affected period (23rd March to 31st July 2020);
  • Where an alternative methodology is proposed

For further information, please contact NABERS at nabers@environment.nsw.gov.au.