How to work with BEEC ratings

A BEEC rating gives those seeking new tenancies valuable information on their likely future running costs and lighting standards. For those renewing a lease, the information is useful for energy efficiency project planning.

If your building has a poor rating, a lighting upgrade is likely to provide a substantial gain in efficiency within your tenancy, cut operational costs and create a better work environment.

Lighting assessment

The lighting assessment provides incoming tenants or owner-occupiers with a meaningful result to help make future decisions on the need for lighting upgrades. The assessment works out the Nominal Lighting Power Density (NLPD) of relevant functional space in a building and the capacity of installed lighting control systems. The assessment is made for both installed lighting and, where applicable, for proposed lighting systems.

Nominal Lighting Power Density (NLPD) is a measure of the power density of the installed general lighting system expressed as Watts per metre² (Wm²). It is based on total nominal luminaire power in a space (power of lamps plus any control gear) divided by the floor area of that space. The NLPD will fall into a band of either poor, median, good or average. It is not a measure of lighting quality – potential occupiers should also assess whether the light quality is good enough for the tasks to be carried out.

Lighting controls are the timer, or motion or daylight sensors that dim or turn lights on and off automatically. The control capacity assessment lets you know whether the lighting in your tenancy has controls installed that help minimise power consumption, and will rate them as either basic, average or sophisticated.

See the CBD program’s non-technical reader’s guide to lighting assessments for more detail and considerations.

Lighting upgrades

A lighting upgrade may be either initiated solely by a tenant or may be a joint decision made in close collaboration with the building owner. Lighting upgrades are an example of where there is a ‘split incentive’ – the landlord may own the lights and controls but has little incentive to upgrade them, as the savings benefit flows to the tenant. However, there are many additional benefits to the landlord from efficient buildings and split incentives are being tackled with new financing models and government-backed schemes. For more information see CitySwitch resources on financing sustainable office upgrades.

Whether the potential lighting project is big or small, it's worth exploring the various options for the best outcome for your tenancy. Keep in mind too that government schemes and incentives like white certificates mean that lighting upgrades have a very rapid payback (often between two to three years). For more information, see CitySwitch resources on Energy efficient lighting.

An initiative by the Council of Australian Government now makes a nationally consistent approach to green leases, which can incorporate agreements about lighting, including a Handbook and Tenant Guide.  In Sydney, the Better Buildings Partnership has created a green lease lifecycle tool that encompasses all the steps from consideration of leases through to fit out and ongoing management.

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