The Next Generation of Green Star 2

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
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Over the past decade, a raft of research has confirmed that Green Star buildings deliver on the triple bottom line of environmental, economic and social sustainability..

We know, for instance, that Green Star-certified buildings produce 62 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, use 66 per cent less electricity and consume 51 per cent less water than average Australian buildings.

We know that Green Star buildings are much cheaper to operate and can save thousands of dollars a year on utility bills.

We also know that Green Star buildings are better places for people, boosting productivity, health and well-being.

So, if we know that green schools improve learning outcomes, green hospitals accelerate patient recovery times and green offices boost productivity, surely we should aspire for all Australians to work, live and learn in green buildings.

As with all good rating tools, Green Star needs to evolve, and we have seen changes to the USGBC’s LEED rating tools, the GreenMark rating tool in Singapore, and the BREEAM tool based in the UK, that have helped these rating tools stay relevant to their markets.

Since Green Star was established in 2003, more than 1,000 building projects have committed to achieve Green Star ratings – from schools and shopping centres to hospitals and hotels. In some markets, such as the commercial office market, Green Star is business-as-usual, with 20 per cent of all CBD office space now Green Star-certified.

In other markets, we have a long way to go before Green Star benchmarks are routinely integrated into buildings. This means Australians continue to live, work and play in buildings that are not healthy, not productive, and not efficient.

If development is about expanding people’s opportunities for a better life, then sustainable development must be equitable. We must aspire to create sustainable places for everyone.

For this vision to be realised – for Australia to be a nation that creates sustainable places for everyone – Green Star must continue to evolve to meet best practice benchmarks and beyond.

This is why the GBCA is developing the Green Star – Design & As Built rating tool and is calling on every part of the industry and community to provide feedback.

This ‘next generation’ Green Star rating tool will be able to assess the sustainability achievements of most building uses in Australia with the exception of single-unit dwellings, and will cover single- and mixed-use buildings at both the design and construction phases.

Green Star – Design & As Built is more than just an amalgamation of the existing rating tools for the design and construction of buildings.

We are refining best practice benchmarks for sustainable design and construction and addressing a host of emerging sustainability issues. Some of the proposed credits move beyond environmental sustainability to tackle broader social sustainability issues. For example, an ‘Adaptation and Resilience’ credit will reward building solutions that address the impact of extreme weather events.

Other credits throw down the gauntlet and challenge the industry to take a whole-of-building approach to sustainability. The ‘Product Transparency and Sustainability’ credit, for instance, recognises products used anywhere in the building, including re-used and recycled products, that are subject to Environmental Product Declarations and third party certification. The scope of this credit has been substantially expanded to include most products that are used in construction of buildings.

One of the many new approaches we are undertaking is to introduce new options for demonstrating compliance. Project teams will be able to choose either a ‘deemed to satisfy’ approach or a ‘modelled performance’ approach. This will enable project teams to customise their Green Star submissions based on budgets and objectives and still demonstrate they’ve achieved sustainable outcomes.

Our commitment during the development of Green Star – Design & As Built has been to reduce the cost and compliance of certification and encourage innovation and world leadership in the delivery of buildings that are not only sustainable, but better for people too.

The Green Star – Design & As Built draft credits and scoping paper can be downloaded from the GBCA website.

The feedback period is open until July 31, 2014.

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  1. Glenn Hedges

    Romilly, is great to see Green Star continue to evolve.

    Am interested in your comment "green hospitals accelerate patient recovery times". Is there research available in the public domain to demonstrate this?

  2. Romilly Madew

    Thanks for your support, Glen. There is LOTS more research available for other sectors (office, education and retail), but healthcare-specific material includes:

    • Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre in Canada found that depressed patients in sunny rooms recovered 15% faster than those in darker rooms
    • Bronson Methodist Hospital in Michigan found that applying green design principles led to an 11% reduction in secondary infections and a decrease in nursing turnover rates to below 7%
    • The Inha University Hospital in Korea found a 41% reduction in average length of stay for gynaecology patients

    More research is required, and the WorldGBC is working on a report which will synthesise all the evidence to date. Look out for it late in 2014.