5 June 2013 — Green Star buildings are slashing greenhouse gas emissions, making significant savings on energy and water consumption and costs, and preventing truckloads of waste to landfill, a report has found.

The report, The Value of Green Star: A decade of environmental benefits, has been released by the Green Building Council of Australia.

It analyses data from 428 Green Star-certified buildings and fit-outs and compares it to the “average” Australian building and minimum practice benchmarks.

GBCA chief executive officer Romilly Madew said hundreds of buildings around Australia, from offices to factories, shopping centres to schools, libraries to hospitals, had achieved Green Star ratings.

“This is the first time we’ve quantified Green Star’s overall impact on Australia’s built environment. This new report complements the large number of case studies and substantial anecdotal evidence of Green Star’s transformative effect on sustainability at the individual building level,” she said.

The report examines the impact of Green Star on greenhouse gas emissions, operational energy and water consumption, and construction and demolition waste.

Energy and greenhouse gas emissions

On average, the report found Green Star-certified buildings produced 62 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and used 66 per cent less electricity than average Australian buildings.

They also produced 45 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and consumed 50 per cent less electricity than new buildings designed and constructed to meet the construction code requirements.

Taken together, the 428 Green Star buildings in the study have reduced electricity consumption by 580,000 megaWatt hours or 2,088,00 gigajoules per year. This reduction is equivalent to five per cent of the Hazelwood Power Plant’s total annual output, or the same as 76,000 average households’ annual electricity use.

The cumulative greenhouse gas savings from the Green Star-rated buildings surveyed, when compared to the average, totals 625,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. That’s equivalent to taking 172,000 cars off the roads.

Water

The report found Green Star buildings used 51 per cent less potable water than average buildings, saving 3,300,000 kilolitres of potable water a year.

Waste

The 2010 National Waste Report found that construction and demolition waste accounts for 38 per cent of the total waste sent to landfill.

The average new construction project has a 58 per cent recycling rate. In comparison, Green Star – As Built certified buildings recycled 96 per cent of their construction and demolition waste.

In total, 37,600 truckloads of construction and demolition waste from Green Star-rated projects – 564,000 tonnes – have been diverted from landfill due to good waste management practices.

Ms Madew said research also found that the higher the Green Star rating, the greater the environmental savings across the four key areas of greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, water consumption, and construction and demolition waste.

“The savings that Green Star is delivering for the built environment – financial, social and environmental – are just too good to ignore,” she said.

The Value of Green Star: A decade of environmental benefits can be found at www.gbca.org.au