Irwinconsult associate director Hannah Blossom

By Donna Kelly

28 May 2013 — Green Star “fatigue” is hitting property developers, Irwinconsult associate director Hannah Blossom told the Property Council of Australia Sustainable Development Conference last week.

Ms Blossom, who has led Irwinconsult’s environmentally sustainable design team for the past six years, said there was a need for innovators to go beyond Green Star and perhaps look at international ratings.

Green Star had become “mainstream”, she said.

Ms Blossom said there was also a fair amount of “Green Star fatigue” due to a range of factors including high certification costs and an onerous assessment process.

Other factors were that Green Star was seen as purely points chasing – it was too prescriptive, materials consideration was limited and it did not assess operation, although a performance tool was on its way, she said.

The Green Building Council says it is addressing the complexity of Green Star and simplifying compliance. The GBCA’s manager Green Star development Robert Milagre said at the Ideaction 2013 conference for the Facility Management Association in Hobart on Monday 27 May that the performance tool was currently in Beta testing phase. Industry observers believe this will breath new life into Green Star.

Ms Blossom said the negative side of NABERS was that it assessed limited building types and there was uncertainty on how the tool would evolve.

NABERS was also not seen as holistic, she said.

Ms Blossom said with the fatigue from both Green Star and NABERS, there was a movement towards worldwide ratings such as BREEAM and LEED.

There were 21 LEED certified buildings in Australia, 1120 with Green Star and just one with BREEAM, meaning “LEED was making some headway, so presumably people are looking for an alternative”, she said.

Other options were the Living Building Challenge, Passivhaus and One Planet.

Ms Blossom said Green Star had 74 credentials that had to be met to receive a rating, while the Living Building Challenge had 20 “imperatives”, One Planet had 10 “principles” and Passivhaus had three “criteria”.

“The Living Building Challenge is giving the top end something to strive for while Green Star certification needs to be more commercially viable,” she said.

In the next session, Lend Lease global head of sustainability Joe Van Belleghem told the conference attendees not to “give up” on Green Star.

“Green Star is a celebration tool – don’t give up on it,” he said.

“When I did my first Green Star project in Canada it changed my life.

“It was a point chaser but you can’t put a dollar value on these multi-million dollar buildings.

“I go to work every day and I love what I do. You can’t put a value on that.

“(And) let’s not put a police mentality on Green Star. Let’s focus on the people who are doing the right thing.”

But Norman Disney and Young global head of sustainability Tony Arnel, while agreeing it was a celebration tool, said cost was an issue with Green Star.

“You have to be realistic about what people are prepared to pay. There’s value in that as well.”

Image credit: Property Council of Australia