A Guide to Office Building Quality

3rd Edition 

The A Guide to Office Building Quality (Guide) provides easy to use guidelines for assessing office building quality in new and existing buildings. The Guide offers a voluntary, market-based approach to identify parameters that typically influence building quality.

The first and second editions of this Guide were released in 2006 and 2012 respectively. To ensure market and industry relevance with respect to several parameters, an updated edition was required.

The Property Council’s Board of Directors requested additional consultation and a Board subcommittee was formed in August 2018 to provide advice and governance. The Board subcommittee reviewed the third edition and endorsed the Guide in March 2019. 

The Property Council's Board of Directors endorsed the Guide on 3 April 2019. 

Order now!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the major changes to the guidelines?
    1. Explanatory notes around ‘Occupancy Density’ have been added.
    2. Definitions under the Lifts section have been amended.
    3. Further details have been included in the indoor environment quality parameters, as well as a new parameter around climate change added.
    4. A new section called ‘Emerging Quality Issues’ has been added to explore considerations that may be needed in the future when designing or upgrading an office building.
  1. Was there any consultation with the industry in compiling the updated guidelines?

    During 2017, a new steering committee of industry experts was formed, and regular meetings held to revise the Guide. A public consultation for the update was completed in November 2017.

  2. What was involved in developing the guidelines?

    The Property Council have engaged a committee with over 50 industry leaders covering designers, developers, owners, occupiers and managers of commercial office properties. The mix of industry leaders also represent a combination of new contributors and existing members from the previous guidelines’ committee. The Property Council would like to thank each committee member for their expertise and commitment.

  3. What is the basis of the third edition quality grading guidelines?

    The third edition is a full review and update of the second edition, which was released in 2012. The third edition utilises a building descriptor of 63 parameters across 13 categories. Each of the parameters tabulate the advised criteria by quality grade within two separate matrices; one matrix for new office buildings and one matrix for existing office buildings.

    The 13 categories listed in the guidelines are:  Environmental, configuration, mechanical, tenant risers, lifts, electrical, standby power – base building, building management, communications, hydraulics, security, amenities and parking. An additional section called ‘Emerging Quality Issues’ is also included.

  4. When will the guidelines take effect?

    The effective date for the third edition will be 1 July 2019.

  5. What if a building is designed before the third edition’s effective date?

    Should a development approval be submitted before the release of the third edition, reference to the grading criteria from the second (2012 Guide) edition is acceptable.

  6. Are the guidelines mandated?

    This is a set of voluntary industry guideline, it is not a regulation or a standard.

  7. Will there be anyone regulating office building grades?

    The Property Council of Australia does not regulate or classify an office building’s grade. This publication is NOT a rating tool and the Property Council does not publicly classify building quality or provide advice on the use of the tool in individual circumstances.

  8. Does my building need to meet all the criteria to be deemed a certain quality grade?

    The assessment tools provide a guide to the typical features of different quality grades of office space – it is not necessary to achieve every parameter nominated in this guide. However, to qualify for a particular quality grade, it is anticipated a building will overwhelmingly meet the stated criteria.

    Users of this Guide are encouraged to exercise judgement rather than rely on absolute rules or a ‘tick the box’ approach. Should criteria not be included against a specific parameter, this does not preclude its inclusion in a building of that quality.

  9. Has the Green Star and NABERS criteria been updated to be in line with the new respective standards?

    All referencing to the Green Star and NABERS criteria will be updated to the respective standards.

  10. Do I need to update my contract immediately to comply with the updated guidelines?

    It is not advised to reference the publication in your contract as this is only a compilation of guidelines regarding office building quality. Compliance with statutory requirements is assumed, should this publication conflict with any statutory requirements, the relevant code or standard will prevail.

  11. What if there is a dispute between the landlord and/or tenant regarding the grading of a building in a contract?

    The Property Council does not provide advice on the use of the tool in individual circumstances. It is not advised to reference the publication in any contract as this is only a compilation of guidelines and features atypical to certain office building quality.

    The Property Council does not regulate the grading of office buildings in any way. Any contractual obligations or statements, regulations and legislations takes precedence over the contents of the Guide.

  12. What happens to my existing building grade based on the 2012 Guide?

    The majority of updates for the third edition occur in the ‘new building’ grade matrix. The ‘existing building’ grade parameters are largely unchanged from the 2012 Guide.

  13. Why doesn’t the guidelines outline the standards of Grade D buildings?

    The guideline’s purpose is to reflect industry aspirations and best practice by quality grade, and not to be used to dictate minimum market standards or compliance. Therefore, standards for Grade D buildings were removed.

  14. What is the definition of a ‘new’ and ‘existing’ office building?

The Property Council of Australia does not define the words ‘new’ and ‘existing’ due to the subjectivity of market perceptions.

     15. Does it take into account of the changes in the National Construction Code 2019 (NCC)?

           The Property Council is aware that the Australian Building Codes Board had reviewed the NCC, which was released in early 2019. This was taken into consideration in the review of the Guide.

     16. Can I get a copy of the draft?

The Property Council of Australia does not distribute the draft of the publication. 


For more information, please contact Catherine Chan, 02 9033 1910.