There are a number of green building rating tools in Australia that have direct and increasing relevance to all building and interiors projects and products.
This article is the first in a two-part series that looks at the various rating tools in the market for commercial, residential and infrastructure projects and how products are dealt with in each.
Current Green Building Rating Tools
The Green Star® system is the green building rating tool used most widely in Australia and is in the process of changing dramatically.
Base building tools currently cover offices, education, retail, health, public buildings, multi-unit residential, industrial and ‘as built’ buildings. Some – such as education, retail, health, public buildings and Multi-unit – also include interiors assessment within the tools.
However, with the introduction later in 2014 (likely October) of the new integrated ‘Design and As Built’ tool (currently under final review) all the current individual building tools get rolled into one simplified tool that covers all building types and is no longer limited to just those handled by the previous tools. This new version is designed to reduce compliance times and save project costs with all interiors being handled separately (see below).
Currently, products are assessed in the individual building tools via various physical characteristics, but the new tool introduces a range of attributes including third party certification, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs are summary life cycle assessment (LCA) reports) and ISO 14001 certification for all base building products, with some minor exceptions.
Interiors Pilot Tool
As mentioned, there has been a range of interiors tools covering offices, education, health, public buildings and multi-unit residential projects that are also in the process of being phased out, albeit not quite so quickly as with base buildings. The replacement integrated ‘Interiors’ Tool that covers all interiors from all building types is still in Pilot form and is likely to be so until well into 2015.
Both these ‘old’ and ‘new’ tools assess products in the Materials (MAT) category using ‘Materials Calculators’ that require a range of evidence to be logged into the calculator to meet the credit requirements. There are various GBCA recognised third party certification schemes that allow simple completion of these calculators by inputting the Level A, B or C certification. In the ‘old’ individual building type calculators, any level of certification yields 100 per cent of the credit points. In the ‘new’ integrated tool, only Level A yields 100 per cent, whereas Level B yields 75 per cent and Level C only 50 per cent of the credit points.
New whole of life LCA Credits
In all of the current and proposed tools, alternative credits have been launched and are now in use now which involve the project (building or interior) undertaking a whole of life LCA study. This involves product manufacturers providing projects’ LCA information, usually in the form of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) or summary LCA report. In existing and current PILOT tools, this credit is added as an ‘Innovation Challenge’ and in the new ‘Design and As Built’ tool it is added as an alternative compliance pathway to the MAT section in its entirety.
New Green Star® Performance Tool
This pilot stage tool assesses existing buildings after occupation and considers cleaning products and the top three products by value used in building operations (consumables) or during a refurbishment or in groundskeeping practices. These products are required to show GBCA recognised third party certification to meet the respective credits.
Recognised Certification Schemes
The GBCA recognises a number of Certification Schemes for different tools and the tool credit requirements create other credit relevancies for the different schemes. EPDs provided by third party providers also meet the new LCA credits.