The City of Sydney in its Development Control Plan (DCP 2012 – updated in Dec 2020) set a bold target for energy efficiency. This includes a peer-reviewed NABERS Star Energy Commitment Agreement of at least 5.5 for base building prior to Construction Certificate (CC) approval.

DCP 2012 3.6.1 -7:
“Applications for new developments containing office premises with a net lettable area of 1,000sqm or more are to be submitted with documentation confirming that the building will be capable of supporting a Base Building National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) Energy Commitment Agreement of 5.5 stars with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Such an agreement is to be entered into prior to any construction certificate being issued for the approved development.”

NABERS OFFICE

The National Australian Building Energy Rating Scheme (NABERS) is a performance-based tool used to measure the operational impacts in existing buildings with minimum 12 months of operation. The NABERS rating scheme rates energy, water, waste and Indoor Environment (IE) in offices, and rates energy and water in shopping centres, data centres, hotels, and apartment buildings. Depending on the building type, the base building, tenancy or the whole building can be rated. NABERS Energy Commitment Agreement is for new building applications where there is no record of building actual energy use. It allows developers, building owners and tenants to promote and market the expected greenhouse performance of a new or refurbished space type from the design stage. A Commitment Agreement is a contract signed by a developer or owner to commit to design, build and commission a building to achieve a specific NABERS energy rating.

The 5.5 Stars NABERS Energy Commitment Agreement target is one of the highest of all planning jurisdictions in Australia. Note that the scale beyond 5 Stars becomes non-linear and equipment efficiency improvements become less effective in increasing the rating. Only a small number of buildings have achieved a 6 Star rating without the use of Green Power.

For developments involving alterations, additions and refurbishments to existing office premises, DCP 2012 requires the base building to achieve 5 Stars through NABERS Energy Commitment Agreement.

Commitment Agreement

DCP 2012 3.6.1 -8:

“Applications for developments involving alterations, additions and refurbishments to existing office premises where the estimated cost of works is over $5 million, & contains a net lettable area of 1,000sqm or more, are to be submitted with documentation confirming that the building will be capable of supporting a Base Building National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) Energy Commitment Agreement of 5 stars with the NSW Office and Environment Heritage. Such an agreement is to be entered into prior to any construction certificate being issued for the approved development. Notwithstanding, a Base Building National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) Energy Commitment Agreement of 5 stars is not required where the consent authority is satisfied that: the upgrade works would negatively impact on significant heritage fabric or the heritage significance of a listed heritage item, or the costs associated with the energy efficiency upgrade works are unreasonable when compared to the overall estimated cost of works for the alterations, additions and refurbishment.”

For any other commercial buildings (other than office), there are no mandatory minimum NABERS star rating requirements. However, other provisions under Section 3.6 of DCP 2012 may still apply.