A study commissioned by NABERS has shown the impact of ABW workplaces on NABERS Energy Base Building and Tenancy ratings.

ABW or Activity Based Working is a workplace concept that offers employees the flexibility to choose an office environment most suitable for their work. 

ABW workplaces are designed to support diverse activities providing workers the freedom to choose their desk, room or area according to the task to be performed.

The ABW workplace concept evolved from research, which revealed that a typical office desk was only occupied about 50 per cent of the time at peak working hours.

While ABW has a minimal impact on average base building performance, for Tenancy Ratings, the study showed that ABW workplaces had a strong positive impact on NABERS performance with the associated behavioural change lowering energy use.

Using real data from low and high density ABW tenancies and with data from a standard workplace in different climate zones used for comparison, the study found two aspects of ABW workplaces that could impact a NABERS Energy Rating are higher occupant density and higher workpoint utilisation.

The study also tracked changes in occupant and equipment loads due to ABW, and evaluated their effect on NABERS ratings beyond the original benchmarks.

However, workpoints outside traditional net lettable areas (NLA) such as in a café or foyer should be included in the computer count, as long as computers are still on the premises.

The findings from the study showed:

  • ABW has minimal impact on average base building NABERS performance. 
  • The greatest difference in the study showed less than a 0.1 Star difference between a conventional tenancy and one using ABW. (This was for a typical office based on current building stock, and the impact may be greater in very high performing buildings.)
  • ABW workplaces provide a strong positive impact on NABERS tenancy performance due to the associated behaviour change resulting in lower energy use.
  • The application of NABERS’ computer count methodology is valid for ABW, provided that the counts are taken between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm and 4:30 pm.