In the last few weeks, the property and construction sector has reached a momentous milestone: 1,000 Green Star projects.

These 1,000 projects translates into more than 14 millions square metres of space in buildings and precincts in every state and territory of Australia.

Of this, more than 8.1 million square metres is office space – equivalent to all the existing Premium and A Grade office space in the Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide CBDs combined. Those offices are now the workplaces of 540,000 Australians, or 4.5 per cent of our total workforce.

Beyond the commercial sector, more than 4,400 people now live in Green Star-rated apartments and 16,800 students learn in Green Star-certified schools. Some 80,000 people will soon be living Green Star – Communities. That’s more than the entire population of Rockhampton.

The environmental benefits of 1,000 Green Star projects are impressive – slashing 625,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually – the equivalent to removing 175,000 cars from our roads or saving 128,000 average households’ electricity use.

We are exceptionally proud of this achievement, but not because we think we deserve applause. Instead, we think the bouquets should go to every member of the property and construction industry who has specified, commissioned, designed, constructed, manufactured products for, occupied or managed a Green Star building or community. It is your voluntary commitment that has transformed our buildings, cities and communities.

The leaders in our industry understand that accepting business-as-usual won’t address climate change, build sustainable and liveable cities for a rapidly-expanding global population or create the best places for people.

They understand that we must continue to push the envelope, embrace innovation and challenge each other to step outside our comfort zones. Business-as-usual is broken.

For example, Lend Lease continues to break the mold, committing to achieving Green Star ratings on each project at Barangaroo and recently achieving the nation’s first 6 Star Green Star – Performance rating at Commonwealth Bank Place. This project now has ratings for design, construction, interior fitout and operations. As investors seek sustainable assets, Lend Lease understands that business-as-usual is no longer an option.

Or take Frasers Property Australia, which has achieved a portfolio rating of 57 properties in the last year, and has committed to achieve a minimum 5 Star Green Star – Design & As Built ratings for all new industrial, commercial and retail projects.

Or consider Stockland, with five new Green Star ratings for retail centres under its belt in less than a year, the first green bond issuance and the Green Star-rated Aura community on the Sunshine Coast that will have its own postcode.

Don’t forget Kathmandu, which is working with us to revolutionise the retail space, or Coles, which achieved the first Green Star rating for a sustainable supermarket earlier this year.

As the innovators continue to challenge the status quo, we understand that Green Star must continue to adapt and evolve too. We continue to push the building industry into new areas of opportunity with the introduction of ‘Innovation Challenges’ that address social housing, health impacts, and reconciliation action plans.

We’ve also worked hard to streamline our systems and refine our processes, with feedback on our Green Star portfolio approach and Design & As Built certification confirming that we’re delivering on our promises.

And we continue to forge new international partnerships – most recently with GRESB, the Green Building Information Gateway and the Climate Bonds Initiative. Many more discussions are underway. Green Star is continuously recognised as a viable mechanism that delivers rigourous results valued by domestic and international investors, tenants, owners and verifiers. This was recently seen at the World Green Building Council conference in Hong Kong, and the International Green Building Conference in Singapore, where interest in Green Star ratings and Green Star-rated buildings was high.

Meanwhile, our industry in Australia continues to use Green Star to help challenge the status quo, reposition their assets, inspire their staff and build loyalty with their investors.

Does this strategy work? Look for the proof in every state, and every city around Australia.