9 February 2011 – The Green Building Council of Australia is inviting industry to have its say on the development of a new Green Star assessment methodology to rate the operational performance of existing buildings.

For eight years now, the presence of Green Star in the Australian market has driven innovative design and construction of buildings and generated strong demand for new green products, services and technologies.

But what happens once the Green Star rating is achieved, the builders down tools and the tenants move in? Is a building still green if it is not managed and maintained to the intended sustainability standards?

In November 2010, the GBCA announced that it was following the USA’s LEED and UK’s BREEAM, and developing a new Green Star assessment methodology to assess the operational performance of existing buildings.

The government-developed National Australian Built Environment Rating System  currently provides industry with long-standing and widely-accepted benchmarks for operational energy and water efficiency, as well as newer ratings for waste and indoor environment performance.

The new Green Star – Performance tool will potentially incorporate these benchmarks, as well as the full range of Green Star environmental impact categories: energy, water, management, transport, indoor environment quality, land use and ecology, emissions, materials and innovation.

The GBCA is currently consulting with industry stakeholders on the potential for referencing the NABERS operational benchmarks in Green Star – Performance.  In the Energy category, for instance, Green Star – Performance may have one credit that addresses greenhouse gas emissions in building operations, which could be verified using a NABERS Energy Certificate. There may also be other Energy credits such as a “peak load” credit and reference to “sub-metering” which are yet to be determined.

This approach, of referencing government energy benchmarking programs in a voluntary rating tool, is similar to that used in the USGBC’s LEED Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance  and in Building Research Group’s BREEAM In-Use.  It makes sense for LEED-EBOM to reference Energy Star for the US market; as it does referencing NABERS Energy in Green Star – Performance for Australia.

Stakeholder feedback has identified the need for a holistic tool that considers the combined impact of the various sustainability categories and delivers one single Green Star rating.

We will certainly be working in close consultation with the NABERS team, as industry has already told us that referencing NABERS performance benchmarks is important.  The GBCA has invited the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, as the national administrator of the NABERS program, to participate in the development of the new tool.

According to Yma ten Hoedt, assistant manager built environment at DECCW, both DECCW and the GBCA are conscious of the industry’s desire for us to work together and for the tools to be integrated and complementary.

”The NABERS team is looking forward to exploring with the GBCA opportunities to strengthen NABERS and Green Star, and to expand the application of the NABERS rating tools,” Ms ten Hoedt says.

“This proposal is to wrap the industry-recognised NABERS ratings within a tool that also encapsulates a number of additional measures of operational performance.

“Measuring the real-life performance of buildings in operation is critical to achieving a more sustainable built environment, and all the NABERS tools have been developed with this in mind.”

We are inviting our members and the broader industry to have their say and to tell us how they would best use a tool that measures the operational performance of their buildings.

Andrew Aitken

So, what type of buildings should Green Star – Performance measure? For how long should Green Star – Performance ratings be valid?  Should Green Star award ratings from 1 to 6 stars, or just 4, 5 or 6 stars, representing “best practice”, “Australian excellence” and “world leadership”?

The GBCA’s intention is to deliver Green Star – Performance fully online, enabling streamlined documentation and certification processes to develop and potentially reduce the costs associated with certification.

We encourage industry to download the Green Star – Performance scoping paper and share feedback via our online portal before Friday 4 March 2011. See the website

Andrew Aitken, is Green Star director, Green Building Council of Australia