“Using an older version of Green Star is like going to the Apple Store and asking for an iPhone 2,” Wood & Grieve Engineers’ Prasanna Suraweera said recently.

WGE’s sustainability manager, Suraweera has been advising his clients to use the new rating tool, which he says is simply a matter of “future proofing.”

“If you’re trying to lease a building, you want to make sure it’s benchmarked to the latest rating tool. From an asset valuation point of view, we believe using Green Star – Design & As Built makes sense,” he said.

Projects from aquatic centres to apartments, from restaurants to retirement living villages, and from stadia to shopping centres are set to achieve Green Star – Design & As Built ratings over the next year.

Australand, which has 1.3 million square metres of Green Star-rated commercial, industrial and retail space, has committed to achieve 5 Star Green Star – Design & As Built ratings for all new projects, and we expect other industry leaders to follow.

Australand’s head of commercial and industrial, Sean McMahon, has said the commitment “reinforces our commitment to our customers.”

“We are working with our customers to ensure they understand the financial payback and benefits of future-proofing these assets against major rises in energy and water costs – and an independently-verified Green Star rating is a good way to do this,” McMahon has said.

Green Star – Design & As Built, which combines both design and construction ratings, is expected to reduce the cost and compliance burdens associated with certification.

Not only does it lower exposure to climate-related risks, Green Star – Design & As Built also lowers operating expenses and maintenance costs by setting benchmarks at levels appropriate for today’s needs and technology capabilities.

The GBCA has also reduced the documentation requirements for the ‘design’ component, which means developers can promote a building’s Green Star outcomes earlier and achieve greater marketing benefit.

Adelaide’s 185 Pirie Street achieved the first Green Star – Design & As Built optional Design Review rating in June. The building’s developer, Palumbo, was keen for Green Star to be a central pillar of its marketing campaign for new tenants.

The project’s environmental consultant, Paul Davy from dsquared consulting, has said that certifying the design using the previous rating tool, Office v3, would have occurred at least six months later.

“Too late to have provided much marketing benefit,” as Davy says.

Palumbo is expecting the Green Star rating will translate into a broader tenancy base, particularly from interstate companies with high expectations of sustainable office space. Outgoings will be lower and the operating expenditure is expected to be more favourable, with a fast payback period on the sustainability features delivering a quality asset.

According to Davy, there was “no cost impost” in moving to the new rating tool.

“It’s actually been a bit cheaper. Certification fees are significantly down, and as we are able to spend less time preparing a submission, we can keep our consultancy fees down too.”

The bottom line? Green Star – Design & As Built is better aligned with current investor and tenant demands.