By Simon Wild

The US Green Building Council is being sued for false advertising about its  rating tool LEEDS.  Let’s not allow fear of litigation to stand in the way of innovation in Australia, argues Simon Wild.

18 March 2011 – Opinion: The Green Building Council of Australia, along with its rating tool, Green Star, has undoubtedly been a key driver in transforming the property industry since its advent in 2003.

We have seen an unprecedented uptake in both rated buildings and, more importantly, the capacity of our industry to understand the complexities of being, or going, green.

We have matured and are starting to ask ourselves, “what next?”; “is this really the answer?”; and, “where do we go now?” And rightly so. But we can’t let ourselves go down the path of finger-pointing, blame and litigation that our sister industry in the US is currently going through.

I read with some fascination last week of how a consultancy firm in the US is suing the US-Green Building Council  for false advertising about LEED, their version of “Green Star” (See article here)

I understand the reasoning that some rated buildings have not achieved the actual performance they promised; indeed it is rumoured that we have seen such things in Australia.

But, and this is a big BUT, let us not forget the foresight that the British Research Establishment, US-GBC and GBCA had to establish a common metric for assessing the “greenness” of buildings. This should be celebrated as one of the most innovative and influential movements of greening our property industry in the past decade.

Yet now, we find ourselves in the position where those innovators who served to transform our industry are being held back from further transformative innovation by fear of litigation.

At the Green Cities Conference this year we certainly heard, and were encouraged to talk about, what is working and what isn’t – a testament to a maturing green property industry.

Mentions of “‘Green Star’ is not a design tool”, and “don’t chase credits, focus on good design”, were all encouraged and supported by the GBCA. Indeed, many of their training courses focus on such topics.

Additionally, articles such as Hidden Risks of Green Buildings from the US, point to this maturing.

As an industry, we are maturing and starting to find our own way forward, but let’s not turn our backs on those who helped us start on this journey in the first place.

Let’s not invent new tools, bag our current tools or give up altogether. The GBCA want to evolve so let’s all help with our collective knowledge and experience.

So what is the next generation of “Green Star”? What is it that you want to see change? Have your say here.

If you’re interested in collaboration contact me at: s.wild@cundall.com.au