By Davina Rooney Chief Executive Officer Green Building Council of Australia

On 29 October the Green Building Council of Australia will be unveiling the biggest overhaul of Green Star in its 18-year history. Here, Davina Rooney, Chief Executive Officer of Green Building Council of Australia, talks about the Green Star Buildings rating tool and how it is helping the industry to deliver highly-efficient buildings which are fully powered by renewables.

We will be releasing the first of our Future Focus suite of rating tools, Green Star Buildings. This is a key milestone in what has been an in-depth, two-year process to develop the next generation of tools for our rating system.

Built off the back of unprecedented levels of industry and stakeholder consultation, Green Star Buildings takes certification to a whole new level.

It sets a compelling new standard for the coveted 6 Star Green Star world leadership rating and will be a tool that better responds to our challenging times.

The scale of change in how we approach certification is commensurate with the pace at which building and construction materials and practices have evolved and will continue on this trajectory.

In just under two decades, Green Star has helped drive widespread market transformation. Having notched up more than 3000 project certifications, Green Star’s reach has continued to accelerate.

But now we need to build on that success. Our industry leaders continue to race ahead, continually innovating and lifting the bar on sustainable practice.

At the same time, building tenants and investors – from everyday Australian families in their homes to global brands like Country Road with their retail outlets – are emerging as agents of change. They are demanding higher standards, a greater focus on healthy, resilient places that better serve their communities.

Global megatrends are having an influence at the local level and our rating system must be equipped to respond. We have closely examined the interplay of our new suite of tools with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to maximise alignment.

A changing climate and challenging economic times both engender a flight to quality and a fear of ending up with stranded assets. 

These challenges are clearly reflected in our new suite of Future Focus tools. On the one hand, the new suite is about making sustainability more widely accessible. We want to increase the uptake of best-practice green building and independent certification as much as possible.

On the other hand, the new tools seek to capture how sustainability is being redefined. For example, there is a much bigger emphasis on community benefit alongside familiar environmental concerns.

People are now at the heart of how sustainability is measured so impacts on health and wellbeing take on much greater weight in assessing a project.  

This will be particularly useful for those planning our communities, who need to ensure that their plans bring long-lasting social value to today’s and future populations, related to improved livability, access to amenities and employment. 

Embedding resilience in our buildings is also key as we look to the future and construct rating tools that will serve us well into the next decade and along the net zero path we must follow.

Drought, bushfires and now the coronavirus pandemic have all underscored how vital it is to have more resilient housing that better protects both the health of residents and the planet.

With building and construction accounting for some 39 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions*, and almost a quarter of emissions here in Australia, drastic action is required if we are to meet our Paris Agreement commitments.

Data shows that on average, Australian families spend 90 per cent of their time indoors, with two-thirds of this at home. It is unsurprising, therefore, that 57 per cent of Australia’s total built environment emissions come from our homes.

That’s why in July 2020, we released a draft Green Star Homes Standard for consultation. Green Star Homes will be another invaluable tool in our Future Focus armoury. 

It means breaking new ground in our certification approach but Green Star’s success to date makes extending into the residential homes space the next logical step to achieving emissions reduction at scale in our buildings.

By significantly lifting the standard to which new homes are designed and built we can dramatically improve human health and wellbeing while at the same time lowering energy bills and helping to meet our emissions reduction targets.

Importantly, Green Star Homes will promote sustainable residential building at scale working in partnership with volume builders. The Standard enables builders to seek certification for an entire standard home product line as Green Star Designed.

But incorporating sustainability at the precinct and city level is just as important as buildings and homes. 

GBCA is already partnering with a broad range of public and private sector organisations around Australia to do just that.

Many state and local governments are already realising the benefits of Green Star certification for their public and social infrastructure, as well as their operational buildings. We were delighted to have the City of Darebin join some of the nation’s biggest developers as an Early Access Program Participant for the Green Star Buildings tool, proving that sustainability delivers value across all different scales and project types.

With an increased focus on accessibility, inclusion and placemaking, our Future Focus suite will help project proponents meet the growing standards and high levels of liveability that set Australian communities apart.

We invite you to join us online as we launch the first in this new generation of Green Star tools and be part of delivering healthier, more resilient and positive places for people. For more information, and to attend the launch on Thursday 29 October at 10.30am AEDT, click here.

*https://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/WorldGBC-embodied-carbon-report-published

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