If a disclosure affected building or area is undergoing major physical works that will change the NABERS Energy for Offices rating by at least half a star, as assessed by a CBD Accredited Assessor (Assessor), you can apply for an exemption while the refurbishment is underway.

Whether the works will affect the NABERS Energy for offices rating is a judgement for an Assessor to make and justify to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (the department) on your behalf, for an exemption to be granted.

Definition of a major refurbishment

A major refurbishment is set out at regulation 5B(1) of the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Regulations 2010 (the BEED Regulations). A major refurbishment is one that, according to a Assessor, will alter the NABERS Energy for offices rating of the base building by at least half a star.

This assessment must be based on the NABERS Energy and Water for Offices Rules (the NABERS Rules).

Typically, an office building’s base building energy consumption is driven primarily by HVAC and lighting. Upgrading these systems are common examples of major refurbishments that may change the base building rate by at least half a star.

An exemption on the basis of a ‘major refurbishment’ is in force for 12 months from the day the exemption is granted.  

Specific requirements

In addition to the standard requirements, an exemption application on the basis of a ‘major refurbishment’ must include:

  • an assessment by a Assessor, showing that the refurbishment is a ‘major refurbishment’; and
  • whether the Assessor has complied with subregulation 9(3A) by disclosing any conflict of interest in relation to the application.

Both requirements can be completed by an Assessor through the CBD Assessor Portal.

An exemption may only be granted if the Secretary (or Delegate) is satisfied that a ‘major refurbishment’ of a building (or area) is underway.

Therefore, an exemption application on this basis should include supporting documentation to assist the Secretary (or their Delegate) in being satisfied that the refurbishment of the building is:

  • a ‘major refurbishment’ (r 5B(1) of the BEED Regulations); and
  • is underway.

Where the Secretary (or their Delegate) is not satisfied that the building is undergoing a major refurbishment, they may request additional information to support the exemption application, which may delay processing.

Supporting documentation

Supporting documentation for major refurbishment exemption applications may include:

  • A brief description of any new equipment or systems installed as part of the project. This can be documented in the CBD Assessor Portal, noting that the contents can be copied from a suitable existing document and does not have to be created specifically for this purpose. For example, this could include information about:

    • central heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system functions or equipment, including controls upgrades;

    • improved energy efficiency of new equipment;

    • addition of variable speed drives (VSDs) or variable frequency drives (VFDs) on motors;

    • vertical transportation system energy consumption;

    • central hot water systems;

    • Any addition of solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery systems.

  • Information about any change of use for the building. For example, if the building is being refurbished to upgrade from educational tenants (unrateable) to being suitable for office tenants, this would constitute a change in the NABERS rating.

  • Similarly, if a building was being converted from a warehouse (not office) to a facility suitable for lease as office space. See example around refurbishing a warehouse at Definition of an office.

  • Comparisons between previously installed and proposed equipment efficiencies, if known.

  • Signed contracts for significant components of the major refurbishment project. Note that the major refurbishment project can be deemed to have started if copies of signed contracts of major work elements are provided, even if site work is yet to commence.

  • Works schedule, waterfall diagram or Gantt chart showing a summary of start and finish dates for key elements.

  • Copies of tender, schedule and scope documents or relevant excerpts from contracts to support claims.

  • HVAC contractor documents showing changes to main HVAC systems.

  • Electrical or lighting contractor documents showing changes to base building lighting systems.

  • Solar PV system design documentation including panel layout and estimated output.

  • Photos of the area of the planned works, or of construction work if construction underway.

To be a ‘major refurbishment’, upgrades must alter the base building rating of the building by at least half a star. Upgrades to tenant systems such as tenancy lighting or tenant installed supplementary air-conditioning will not normally reduce base building energy consumption or have an impact on the base building NABERS rating to satisfy this requirement.

When do your disclosure obligations apply?

The stage of the refurbishment project determines when disclosure obligations apply, and whether you can apply for an exemption.

Under the current NABERS Energy and Water for Offices Rules, a building will become eligible for a NABERS Energy for offices rating as soon as 12 months of data can be collected. This is the NABERS Rating Period.

The 12-month NABERS Rating Period can only begin once one of the following requirements is met:

  • 75% of the office Net Lettable Area is occupied by tenants, or

  • it has been 2 years since the Certificate of Occupancy (or equivalent) was issued.

Where a refurbished building is not eligible for a NABERS Energy for offices rating, you can seek an exemption on the basis that the building or area is non-assessable. See non-assessable building exemptions for more information.

You will also need to allow time to prepare and process the NABERS Energy for offices rating. NABERS Assessors are allowed up to 4 months after the NABERS Rating Period ends to submit their application.

An exemption may be granted to cover the data collection for the NABERS Rating Period and submission time. The longest exemption is 12 months, but multiple exemptions may be granted if it isn’t yet possible to work out the NABERS Energy for offices rating.

Planning a refurbishment

Before a major refurbishment begins and throughout the planning stage, a building that is disclosure affected remains affected and isn’t eligible for a major refurbishment exemption, as the major refurbishment is not ‘underway’.

In some circumstances, an exemption may be granted for other reasons. For example, an exemption may be granted on the basis that the disclosure affected building or area is non-assessable where a building has been fully vacant for more than 12 months and a NABERS Energy for offices rating can’t be completed.

If you are not granted an exemption, your disclosure obligations will apply. You will need a current registered Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) if you offer a disclosure affected building for sale, lease or sublease, and you will need to follow the advertising rules. This applies even when a planned future refurbishment is expected to change the NABERS rating.

Refurbishment is underway

You can apply for an exemption to your CBD Program obligations when the major refurbishment is underway, that is, once the contract for construction or equipment supply have been executed. While a major refurbishment of a building is underway, a building or area that is disclosure affected is still identified as such, even if your exemption is granted.

Refurbishment is complete

As part of the CBD Program’s compliance monitoring activities, you may be asked to provide information to substantiate that the major refurbishments were undertaken and are completed.

After a major refurbishment project is completed, a building or area is not disclosure affected for 2 years from the date the Certificate of Occupancy (or equivalent) is issued. This is automatic, you don’t need to apply.

If there are staged certificates for different areas of the building, the building is not disclosure affected until 2 years from the date that the final certificate is issued.

The conditions for issuing a Certificate of Occupancy vary between jurisdictions. In many locations, no Certificate of Occupancy will be issued if air conditioning plant items have been replaced but there have been no changes to fire services or the building classification.

After refurbishment

In some cases, a refurbished building might be disclosure affected but not eligible for a NABERS Energy for offices rating. This means that it can’t get a current registered BEEC.

Under the most recent NABERS Rules, if your building is subject to a major refurbishment, it will be eligible for a NABERS Energy for offices rating as soon as a 12-month Rating Period can be completed.

The 12-month NABERS Rating Period can only begin once one of the following requirements is met:

  • 75% of the office Net Lettable Area is occupied by tenants; or
  • it has been 2 years since the Certificate of Occupancy (or equivalent) was issued.

After a major refurbishment, if a building is not eligible for a NABERS Energy for offices rating you can seek an exemption on the basis that the building or area is non-assessable.

Apply for a major refurbishment exemption

To apply for a major refurbishment exemption, you should engage a CBD Accredited Assessor (Assessor) who can complete the application on your behalf and include their supporting statement in accordance with the Regulations.

The application can be made by the Assessor in the CBD Assessor Portal.

There is a $483 (GST free) fee for this application.

Timeframes

The department considers applications on a case-by-case basis. We aim to process these applications within 21 calendar days of receipt.

If your application is incomplete this may cause delays. We will contact you as soon as practical if there are any issues with your application.

We will notify you of the decision by email. If granted, the exemption is valid for a period of 12 months from the date of issue.

If your application is refused, you can request a review of our decision under section 67 of the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010 (BEED Act). Contact us to apply for a review of our decision.

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