Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) has earned the first Green Star – Communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) for the Brisbane Airport site. Established as a pilot program in 2012, Green Star – Communities was designed as a tool to assess and certify the sustainability of community-level projects.

According to the GBCA, the program is a voluntary tool that municipalities and developers can use to create communities that are more flexible, adaptable and resilient. In addition, Green Star – Communities certification will result in communities that are better planned and designed, more productive and prosperous, as well as being healthier places to live, work, and play, GBCA said.

The Brisbane Airport site is a 2700-hectare site with plans for more than 50 commercial, office, mixed use, industrial, and retail buildings.

“This achievement gives us reassurance that we’re on the right track and further encourages us to do even more for sustainability so that Brisbane Airport is regarded as a world leader in this space,” said BAC chief executive officer and managing director Julieanne Alroe.

The Brisbane Airport earned a 4 Star Green Star – Communities rating after the entire site was assessed against benchmarks for governance and innovation, design excellence, environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, and liveability. The BAC project team developed policies to address corporate social responsibility and to provide sustainability reporting to the public regarding economic, environmental, and social impacts of the project.

“I am extremely proud of the dedicated team at Brisbane Airport who have worked hard to achieve the first Green Star – Communities rating,” Alroe said.

GBCA chief executive officer Romilly Madew noted that the award was “an enormous achievement not just for BAC, but for the people of Brisbane, who now have independent proof that the airport precinct is being planned and designed to deliver environmental, economic and social sustainability.”

“With a Green Star – Communities rating, Brisbane Airport has set new sustainability benchmarks for airports around the world,” she said.

According to the GBCA, the rating tool offers benefits for developers, policy makers, financiers, and citizens. The tool helps developers get their projects out to market more quickly by facilitating more efficient development processes, while financiers get a framework for sustainable investment.

Governments can use the tool to deliver specific policy outcomes, to provide guidance for planning and approval of major projects, and to create a framework for greater sustainable development outcomes. Citizens will benefit by having a choice of communities that offer a better quality of life.

For each project, an independent panel assigns points for the sustainability performance of the project’s planning, design, and construction outcomes in the following areas: governance, design, liveability, economic prosperity, environment, and innovation. The total points earned then translate into 4 Star, 5 Star, and 6 Star ratings. A 4 Star rating equates to “best practice,” a 5 Star rating equates to “Australian excellence,” and a 6 Star rating equates to “world leader.”

The rating requires continued oversight, including a re-evaluation within three years to determine if the project is delivering the expected outcomes. Green Star – Communities also requires re-certification within five years.

Worldwide, 59 “urban sustainability rating tools” similar to Green Star – Communities are in use in 22 countries. The 2014 report, A Global Survey of Urban Sustainability Rating Tools, provides more information about the tools currently in use.