The world is moving on – time to wake up

Manufacturing doesn’t occur in buildings, there’s plenty of time to get it right and who cares if Singapore has decided to make 80 per cent of all buidings green?

By Tina Perinotto…

While the Australian federal government frets about how hard to beat the coal industry with its carbon tinted feather – meanwhile watching its stunning majority dribble away to the Libs and the Greens – and while the green building industry tosses around a hundred different ways to achieve the most efficient green building industry, our neighbours in Singapore just get on with it.

A simple media statement from the Building and Construction Authority in April said it all. The heading was: 80 per cent of buildings will be green by 2030. Pretty clear, isn’t it?

But this is no ordinary press release without substance. Backing it is a package tailor made for success: there would be $100 million (A$88.2911million) in incentives to help achieve the goal and a promise that $1.6 billion (A$1.412 billion) would be saved in energy cost reductions.

If developers needed even more incentive, they would have it, with extra floor space that will be allowed over and above the Master Plan Gross Plot Ratio, thanks to the co-operation of master plan authority.

Of course there’s no point in being in charge if you don’t lead, so the government sector will also extend its own green targets from large new buildings to those further down the food chain.

“Besides new buildings, the Government is also committed to have all large existing buildings owned by government agencies to attain the Green Mark GoldPlus standard by 2020.  The estimated retrofitting cost to upgrade all existing buildings owned by government agencies will be about $500 million (A$ 441.476 million) over the next 10 years, and this will lead to substantial energy savings of $120 million (A$105.936) per year,” the statement says.

Expect the creation of around 18,000 green specialist jobs as well.

In China, attention is also turning to greening the building stock.

Green Building Council of Australia Chairman and World Green Building Council Chairman, Tony Arnel, recently returned from a trip to China where authorities signed a memorandum of understanding in relation to to the WGBC.

Of course Australia is not sitting on its hands.

There’s been some money for retrofitting businesses and private homes (see our update on this in the current issue) and mandatory disclosure of energy consumption in commercial buildings will happen. Lynne Blundell pored over the lengthy technical submissions full of suggestions of how to change the proposals, to make them fairer, or more transparent. See her analysis of the industry’s concerns.

If there is fear about the scheme’s introduction from landlords and designers, should their building not perform as well as expected or promoted, there is good reason.

In the UK the new mandatory disclosure rules have thrown up some embarrassing and painful truths, with some high profile architects such as Norman Foster and Daniel Libeskind responsible for some of the worst performing buildings.

In Australia the design of scheme is causing quite a few concerns, but according to Maria Atkinson, global head of sustainability for Lend Lease, we don’t even have the right numbers on the proportion of greenhouse emissions created by our building sector.

While the rest of the world has pretty much agreed that the figure is around 40 per cent, the Australian government persists with a figure of 23 per cent.

Atkinson says this is wrong [which will make any benchmarking wrong] and blames a decision by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics (ABARE) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), to rely on inaccurate methodology that failed to include manufacturing as activities that occurred in buildings.

That means that “food, beverages, tobacco, textiles, clothing, footwear, machinery and equipment, other manufacturing, wood, paper, printing, chemical, rubber, plastic products, iron, steel, aluminium smelting, other non-metallic mineral products including petroleum and natural gas sectors, were all assumed to not occupy buildings,” as Atkinson put it.

Read her piece in Spinifex.

Now this does not exactly fill one with confidence that the government is doing its paternalistic thing  of looking after our interests.

Of course it must be looking after someone’s interests. Now who could that be?

tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au