Letter: 26 May 2010 – From Caroline Noller – Thanks for the articles on rating tools and the “Where to from here?”

I must say that it’s “back to the future” on the topic of harmonising the plethora of rating tools. Back in the last millennium (around 1995/6) the Green Building Challenge formed as a voluntary international group with the express goal of bringing together all the “green rating tools” at the time. This was of course prior to the era of Green Building councils – a time when voluntary activity with no commercial interest resulted in good progress by many countries in streamlining green building assessment and establishing material impact issues in quantitative form.

In fact I recall being at the meeting where a strong argument arose between David Gottfried (US GBC) and Nils Larsson the then chair of the Green Building Challenge, with David accusing the GBC of stepping on his patch – the first evidence of the vested interests that arise when even not-for-profits set themselves up to be financially dependent on maximising “ratings” for income.

The GBC was not able to achieve “harmony” between the players as cultural, legislative and community norms are so vast across the world – let alone in a single country. Property is a vast and complex beast, whose profile varies depending on the stage of life-cycle and scale of activity. I think this complexity needs to be remembered and embraced.  My point about “simplicity” in messages comes in here – perhaps more focus needs to be put by all the tool makers on getting things better understood by the general community and users. It would be tremendous to see a shift in GBCA policy to better mirror the PCA work in educating the community on the role and value of all the tool.

Alternatively, perhaps the model of the Global Reporting Initiative will be considered by all – that is, a multi stakeholder approach to developing a framework which is free to use by everyone. There is no financial interest or dependence for the GRI and interested parties “pay to play” if they want a voice in the process. (You pay an annual “organisation fee” which then gives you access to participation).  Nobody has a controlling interest; no one pays a fee to use the system. It is continuously kept up to date through stakeholder input in a transparent nature.

Keep up the good work.

Caroline Noller
Sustainability Manager
Australand Holdings Limited