Simon Wild speaking at Green Cities 2013.

27 May 2014 — I wrote an article a few years ago for The Fifth Estate that supported the necessary evolution of Green Star, saying that we need to support the systems and structures we have in place and not go off and create new ratings and new tools. Why set about creating another green governing body when we have spent the last 10 years refining and improving the one we have?

This still holds true. We shouldn’t forget that Green Star has transformed the industry. As Green Building Council of Australia chief operating officer Robin Mellon says, the industry is very different now. Most contractors get the Green Star management points with ease, we have Global GreenTag, environmental product declarations, etcetera. The industry knows more about green buildings than we did 10 years ago. 5 Star Green Star can be achieved at cost neutral, whereas five years ago it used to be 4 Star Green Star was cost neutral.

But, and this is a big but. There is now a growing recognition in the industry that if every building was built as a green building, even as 6 Star Green Star, we still wouldn’t be sustainable – it’s a growing recognition that we aren’t doing enough. Check out my blog for survey results on this.

So, if green is just slightly less unsustainable rather than sustainable, then what will drive us to being truly sustainable?

There are many answers. But there are two answers I think relate to the GBCA, and to answer that we should first take heed from some of the work by Clayton Christensen who wrote a book called The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Through extensive research in the tech industry, Clayton found that it is often not the original disruptors or providers of the first technology that create the next disruptive technology – it is most often new comers to the market, the outliers or the upstarts. Typically this happens because the first to market has developed a product that people want and then as the product matures they spend more time listening to what the client wants rather than creating new technologies the client doesn’t even know they need yet. The iPhone was a disruptor to the mobile phone market – no one knew they needed one, and five years later people were camping outside the store to get the latest one.

Green Star was the disruptor. The clients didn’t know they needed it but the GBCA created the need, the demand and the value. Some 10 years later Green Star is now a mature product and the GBCA are quite rightly listening to their clients – and they are being told they need a more efficient, cheaper Green Star, albeit with slightly harder targets than the last version.

But, green isn’t sustainable, so we need the next transformation.

The two answers I think that will play out over the next 5-10 years have quite different outcomes for the GBCA.

The first answer is that through the growing recognition of the GBCA’s clients and members that being green isn’t enough, they will start to tell the GBCA that they don’t just want a cheaper, more efficient Green Star process – they want a transformative product as well. They want a new “tool” that will transform the industry over the next 10 years and they want the GBCA to create it.

The second one is that someone outside of the GBCA is either already working on a new tool or has a new tool ready to launch that they think will provide us with our next transformation, and they will do that despite the inefficiencies of having two rating systems – and in spite of the tremendous amount of work the whole industry has put into making the Green Star process as efficient as possible.

I don’t know which one will happen but I personally believe we should be getting 100 per cent behind the GBCA to give them the support and permission to go out and create the next transformation in the market.

Simon Wild is chief executive of Cundall.