While Queensland was once a leader in the area of sustainable building, GBCA head Romilly Madew says government initiatives and support need to increase after waning in recent years.
In the lead to the Queensland state election the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has called for all political parties to lend greater support to sustainability measures for the built environment.
Romilly Madew, GBCA’s Chief Executive Offier, said despite the impressive number of Green Star-rated facilities boasted by the Sunshine State, government support for green building has of late been on the decline.
“While Queensland was once a leader in sustainable development, government support for green building has waned in recent years,” Madew said.
Madew pointed to Queensland’s impressive past accomplishments in the area of sustainable building, which include developing Australia’s first Green Star-rated retail, industrial and educational facilities, as well as hosting a total of 167 Green Star buildings, ranging from urban skyscrapers to rural hospitals.
The Newman Coalition government undermined the Labor government’s “Green Door Policy” following its election in March 2012, however – an initiative that had been introduced only the year previously by Premier Anna Bligh.
The Green Door Policy sought to expedite the development of exemplary sustainable building proposals throughout the state by fast-tracking their approval.
According to Madew the ensuing decline in government backing for green building has arrived just as demographic, economic and environmental circumstances in the state makes it imperative that more sustainability measures be incorporated into the built environment.
“Meeting the challenges of a growing population, shifting demographics, cost-of-living pressures and a changing climate demands leadership – and it demands unwavering commitment to long-term sustainable thinking,” said Madew.
The GBCA is calling for several government-led initiatives to bolster sustainability in the construction and property sectors.
Chief amongst them is ensuring that the government’s own buildings and development projects obtain Green Star certification, in order to set a high benchmark for the construction and property sectors to follow.
This proposal enjoys strong backing from the Queensland electorate, with a 2014 study of state residents conducted by the Online Research Unit finding that 86 per cent of Queenslanders consider it important for government office buildings to be green.
GBCA has also called for the introduction of a range of incentives to encourage owners and members of industry to upgrade existing buildings. These measures could include awareness campaigns, training and capacity creation, as well as agreements for environmental upgrades.
A third measure is the incorporation of GBCA’s Green Star – Communities certification scheme into government policies and planning strategies.
Green Star – Communities is a rating tool for assessing the sustainability of community or precinct wide developments that was launched by GBCA in June 2012, with the support of Queensland’s former Urban Land Development Authority.
According to Madew application of the rating tool is particularly relevant to Queensland given the state’s rapid demographic changes.
“As Queensland has some of the fastest growing regions in Australia, there has never been a better time to get this right,” Madew said.