Over the last month, our national series of Green Building Days have showcased the industry innovations across the built environment to boost energy efficiency, propel the use of renewable energies and generate widespread environmental and social benefits.

There was Lendlease’s sustainable and affordable southeast Queensland display home with 60 per cent lower than average heating and cooling costs, the certified carbon-neutral Toll Group’s Nike warehouse driving supply chain improvements, and the use of geothermal energy for cooling in Frasers Property Australia homes.

Even a decade ago, who would have believed among the first net zero carbon properties would be industrial facilities?

These leading examples – among a raft of others – reveal how the world-leading Australian property industry is attaining new heights on sustainability across a range of sectors.

At the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) we commend these inspiring projects and look forward to many more, while expanding these initiatives to all areas of the built environment.

As the capacity and innovation across the industry increases, the GBCA is also pushing ahead with improvements to our ratings tools to ensure we continue to set high benchmarks while enabling as many developments as possible to participate in Green Star, and thereby reap the many acknowledged benefits achieving Green Star standards can deliver.

The GBCA will continue to build on our legacy of certifying more than 2,250 buildings and communities across the country under our Green Star.

Our rating system has been influential in propelling the office sector in particular to a high level, with many Australian corporate buildings achieving world’s best practice standards.

As increasing numbers of buildings join this sustainability drive, the GBCA will continue to support industry leadership and advocate for change to drive market transformation across the built environment.

There is exceptional work happening in emerging sectors.

The Brisbane Green Building Day heard about the efforts retailer Woolworths is undertaking with its 5-Star Green Star Design & As Built supermarkets, following the opening of its Heidelberg store.

Importantly, this extends the reach of sustainability in property into the retail sector and connects it directly to consumers.

Owner-tenant partnerships in the industrial sector are also producing outstanding results.

The Toll Group’s Nike warehouse has a Green Star performance rating and is the first facility in Australia to be certified whole-of-building carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard and was delivered in partnership with their landlord Stockland.

The GBCA is heartened by the sustainability partnerships forming to generate these outcomes.

The residential sector remains a major area of opportunity for change. Housing accounts for 57 per cent of emissions in the property sector.

At the Green Building Day in Melbourne, Frasers Property Australia shared its experience with Fairwater, a 6 Star Green Star rated community that employs geothermal energy across 900 homes.

This geothermal design and installation – a project from Alinta Energy – can reduce peak energy demand.

Likewise, the Nightingale Project in Melbourne creates housing that incorporates good design along with sustainability measures to create low environmental impact residences that deliver significant cost savings to residents.

In addition to expanding our influence across all sectors of the built environment, our Green Star ratings system is growing into a more holistic tool with an embedded focus on carbon.\

The GBCA is working with industry to lead the mainstream delivery of net zero carbon buildings, helping Australia cut its emissions in line with its Paris Agreement commitments.

The GBCA recognises the challenge. But the leading efforts showcased across Green Building Day around the country demonstrate that it is possible.

As part of this evolution of Green Star, through our Future Focus programme, Green Star for New Buildings proposes that in 2020 achieving a 6 Star Green Star rating will require new buildings to be net zero carbon, using 100 per cent renewable energy while also being low-energy demand.

By 2023, a 5 Star Green Star New Building will have to adhere to the same requirements for 100 per cent renewable power.

Under these benchmarks, fossil fuel use should be minimised and offset.

Through Future Focus we are proposing to maintain entry requirements at existing levels to encourage participation in Green Star while reducing the administrative burden and cost of compliance.

For those seeking higher ratings, however, we are proposing new, more stringent requirements in keeping with industry’s increasing take up of sustainability efforts on energy efficiency, water efficiency and indoor environments.

Other sustainability elements are also being included, from social aspects to spur the development of community-building, to supply chain initiatives to drive ethical procurement, and credits for biodiversity and ecosystems.

Without the close collaboration the GBCA has with industry, these incredible projects could not happen and these new frontiers could not be reached.

Green Building Day has been a great way to connect with members around the country, exchange learnings, share ambition and look to the future.

The connections being forged not only with industry, but also the emerging partnerships with government, are heartening and important to creating overall change.

Industry, government and university partners are bringing to life the GBCA vision through these exceptional projects.

Together we are building the change we want to see to create a more sustainable Australian built environment.

 

Davina Rooney is Chief Executive Officer of the Green Building Council of Australia