The Green Building Council of Australia is setting a bold new direction in its Future Focus update of the Green Star rating system for new buildings. In the future only buildings that use 20 per cent less water and 10 per cent lower energy than the current National Construction Code will qualify for Green Star credits, just one of the ambitious target proposals for new construction.

The Green Star for New Buildings draft credits have now been released for industry consultation, sharing our next move to transform the nation’s built environment. The best buildings will have net zero operational carbon emissions, and there will be minimum targets across all projects to drive a net zero future.

This draft release follows six months of consultation and engagement. We want industry to influence the future of Australia’s new buildings by providing input and feedback on the draft credits prior to finalisation.

Importantly, the credit framework responds to global megatrends such as carbon management, climate change resilience, nature, health and wellbeing and diversity and inclusion.

We at the GBCA have set out a detailed framework and want stakeholder views. Feedback on the draft credits ends February 28.

As always, the GBCA collaborates with industry to refine the model into the most effective system it can be. We want to work with you to reshape the future of the built landscape to be healthier, more resilient, and more positive for people and the natural environment.

Through the “10 Expectations” Green Star for New Buildings is introducing a clear definition of a sustainable building. The 10 Expectations will require all Green Star certified projects to be efficient, promote health, have lower resource use and be mindful of future climate conditions.

As expected, carbon is of global significance and we’re responding to this. Under the draft credits, the minimum entry requirement for entry into Green Star will be a 10 per cent operational energy and emissions efficiency compared to code. This is also in line with the GBCA’s Carbon Positive Roadmap. Likewise, during planning and construction, buildings must use at least 10 per cent less carbon upfront through their design and choice of materials.

We’ve also listened to industry who have told us they want to see higher levels of achievement from Australia’s top performers. We are confident that together we can deliver on these expectations because of the Australian property industry’s proven track record of delivering consistently high standards. In order to qualify for a six-star Green Star rating, the buildings will have to be globally significant – that is, they must be built using low-carbon materials, then operationally, be fossil-fuel free, highly efficient and powered by renewable energy.

Any project targeting a 5-star rating or higher registered after 2026 must be net zero carbon.

Water is also a high-priority area. Given the real and deepening impact of climate change on Australia’s landscape and urban areas, Green Star for New Building takes a holistic approach to water consumption. The credits will reward water-use minimisation throughout construction and operations. As an entry requirement, Green Star-rated buildings must use 20 per cent less water than a typical building to qualify.

Pollutants entering ecosystems through stormwater runoff will also be considered in the credits framework.

The new credits require specifics with a broad overview. Social impacts and resilience are critical areas of the new Green Star credits. All new buildings will have to have a climate change risk assessment under a simplified and standardised approach. Through the credits, we will seek to connect natural networks with native or built corridors and restore biodiversity across ecosystems.

Our message is clear – we want the built environment to move from a focus on impact minimisation, to one that is actively returning nature and biodiversity. This feeds into the new credits concerning health and wellbeing. In addition to internal environments – minimum standards for fresh air, appropriate lighting and sound – buildings will need to be designed to encourage active movement.

The draft credits also show a recognition that buildings are part of an urban network and fabric, thus rewarding buildings that are well integrated into the urban landscape and those that allow movement around the streets.

The New Buildings framework has a higher emphasis on putting people first. This is included in our consideration of diversity and inclusion, through procurement, construction and for the people who live and work in the building, with credits for beyond-code compliance for access and amenities. A celebration of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is also written into this approach.

We at the GBCA have worked closely with our Future Focus partners, Expert Reference Panels and technical partner WSP to compile these far-reaching draft credits. By working with our Early Access Program participants we’ve road-tested many of the concepts introduced in the draft credits.

Now we want to hear from all interested parties to give their informed views about this important step.

The GBCA is evolving Green Star so Australia’s built environment can stay at the pinnacle of sustainable achievement. Together we are transforming the nation’s built environment and as part of that we need to keep raising the bar.

Green Star for New Buildings in broadening the focus of what it means to build a sustainable building. We’re building on our strong legacy of achievement in reducing carbon emissions, water use and waste to also look at the supply chain and recognising projects that have a procurement system free from modern slavery, designs that address climate change risk and resilience, and those creating opportunities for disadvantaged people through targeted employment strategies.

Through these changes, the GBCA is helping to build a more healthy, positive and resilient future for Australia.

Make sure you have your say. Visit <> read the Summary Paper; consider the changes also being proposed to simplify our certification process; and register for a webinar. We look forward to hearing from you.

Green Building Council of Australia Senior Manager, Strategic Projects Elham Monavari