There is a fundamental difference between energy ratings, such as NABERS ratings, and an energy audit. Energy ratings compare your facility with benchmarks for industry best practice. For example, NABERS takes energy consumption, facility size, location, and operating hours to determine a rating on a 0 to 6-star scale. An Energy audit on the other hand, quantifies specific opportunities for saving energy and specific costs for implementing those opportunities.
What Does an Energy Rating Tell Me?
A rating (usually 0 to 6 stars) that is benchmarked against other facilities of your type, size and location. Lower ratings indicate below average performance, high ratings above average performance.
What Does an Energy Audit Tell Me?
An audit will tell you specific opportunities for improving the energy efficiency of your facility. It will quantify both the savings potential and the implementation costs.
Why Get an Energy Audit?
Energy audits are not required for obtaining a NABERS rating or a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) under the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program. So, why would you get an energy audit? If your organisation wants to improve its energy rating, then an audit is the place to start. As mentioned, a rating won’t identify specific opportunities for improving your efficiency – it will only give you a rating relative to industry benchmarks. An audit will tell you exactly what systems can be improved, how much energy it will save and how much it will cost to implement the upgrade.
Who Should I Get To Audit My Building?
For simplicity, getting your NABERS assessor to complete an energy audit of your facility would make sense. However, because there is a fundamental difference between an energy rating and an audit, there’s also a different skillset that applies. For auditors, they must be able to identify energy saving opportunities, quantify how much energy can be saved, and determine a cost for implementing the changes that have been proposed. Because most energy in a commercial building is consumed by mechanical (e.g. air-conditioning) and electrical (e.g. lighting) systems – auditors must have a strong understanding of mechanical and electrical engineering.
Auditors develop and hone their understanding of these systems by implementing energy saving project. For this reason, the Energy Efficiency Council recommends that your energy auditor be someone who can deliver the energy savings that they’ve identified. This is further reinforced by Sustainability Victoria. It also provides continuity and accountability when you go from the audit to implementation phase.
What to do? Ask your NABERS assessor, as many have delivered energy saving project before and have a strong understanding of mechanical and electrical systems. The risk if they haven’t, is that the opportunities identified and quantified may not be realistic – meaning you’ve paid for a very expensive paperweight. Additionally, make sure they are familiar with the Australian Standard for Energy Audits.
In summary, an energy rating gives you a benchmark of your performance, an energy audit is the first step in improving your energy efficiency and quantifies specific energy saving opportunities and costs.
Sustainability Victoria are currently offering grants for small-medium enterprises in Victoria who are looking to complete an energy audit. Grants contribute up to 50% of the audit costs for organisations with less than 200 employees and over $20,000 per year energy spend.
If you're interested in starting your energy efficiency journey with an energy audit, get in touch here