It’s the biggest overhaul of Green Star since it started in 2003 – there’s a new scoring system, framework and a clearer pathway.
And the big – and long awaited – news is the push to eliminate natural gas from construction and the requirement for buildings to be fossil fuel free and 100 per cent run by renewables to achieve the highest possible 6-star rating.
The upgraded rating tool was unveiled by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) on Thursday by chief executive officer Davina Rooney.
“This marks a huge milestone in Green Star’s evolution and will drive the transformation of buildings to net zero at scale,” Ms Rooney said.
“Green Star Buildings has been designed with industry and government to ensure net-zero becomes the norm. Certification under the new tool will set projects apart – enhancing their enduring value through increased resilience.”
The buildings rating tool has been in development for some time, with GBCA consulting closely with a broad range of industry and government stakeholders.
The result is a fresh approach to Green Star, which translates industry’s ambition into a much higher standard for action geared towards delivering highly efficient buildings designed for the future.
Head of market transformation at GBCA Jorge Chapa referenced the significant work behind the scenes that has led to the achievement and the potential amplification of the tool.
“There has been a lot of work done by a lot of individuals to get us to the point where we’re able to say, yes, this is where we are going to go next and setting very clear targets,”he said.
Firstly, the rating tool has a new definition of sustainable buildings and features eight new categories.
For projects to be certified under the Buildings tool, they need to meet the minimum expectations across at least seven of the following eight categories:
- Responsible – recognises activities that ensure the building is designed, procured, built and handed over in a responsible manner
- Healthy – promotes actions and solutions that improve the physical and mental health of occupants
- Resilient – encourages collaboration and engagement solutions that address short-term shocks and long-term stresses
- Positive – makes positive contribution towards better buildings by focusing on key environmental issues of carbon, water consumption and the impact of materials
- Places – supports the creation of safe, enjoyable, inclusive and comfortable places that are integrated into the broader urban fabric
- People – encourages solutions that address the social health of the community
- Nature – encourages active connections between people and nature and delivery of new natural corridors and green spaces in cities
- Leadership – recognises projects that set a strategic direction, build a vision for industry or enhance the industry’s capacity to innovate
The new system drives transformation of the supply chain, introducing a new minimum expectation to ensure all buildings are built with good design choices and lower carbon products.
The new Responsible Products Framework aims to reward products that have lower environmental impact, are transparent, respect human rights, and are taking action to reduce its carbon content.
The GBCA now has clearer expectations for buildings, including ensuring it protects environmentally significant areas, emits less carbon and environmental impacts in construction and operations, and enables practices that reduce operational waste, amongst others.
“The call for low carbon to net zero products and services is loud and pressing, and increasingly, there is a deeper need to look at environmental and social impact,” said David Clark, director and partner at Cundall and chair of the Technical Advisory Group for GBCA.
“Green Star is now placing more emphasis on nature and the role in that circular economy, and driving and incentivising change in the material supply chain is something we’ve really tried to do.”
Built for industry, by industry, Green Star Buildings was developed with the help of over 150 representatives across the sector, who are all part of the GBCA’s expert reference panels and advisory committees.
GBCA future focus manager Devan Valenti said: “Having been involved since the very beginning, I’ve been inspired by how industry have really driven the changes – they are significant, they are the biggest changes to ever happen.
“I’m heartened by the fact that we wouldn’t have published anything today unless industry fully supported the proposals.”
Prominent projects across the country have already been given access to Green Star Buildings in order to test how it will work in a range of different buildings, and Ms. Rooney said the results have been very promising.
“Our early access partners have proven that Green Star Buildings can be applied to any type of building – from offices and industrial facilities to aquatic centres and University projects,” Ms Rooney said.
“We’ve been excited to see Darebin City Council’s plans unveiled for the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre, which is targeting 6-Star Green Star certification to become a fully electric powered swimming pool.
“We also have some great examples of industrial facilities targeting Green Star certifications, including a banana ripening facility and Charter Hall’s new temperature-controlled logistics hub, which will have capacity to hold 730 million Mars Bars.”
And, while Green Star Buildings encourages electrification, the rating tool also supports any emerging technologies or green gas, which align with Australia’s goals in energy transformation and emissions reduction.