The Green Building Council of Australia is going super green, having entered a partnership with the Living Future Institute of Australia and International Living Future Institute, known for its stringent Living Building Challenge rating.

The move is expected to lead to improved performance of Australia’s buildings and is likely to satisfy observers who have called on the GBCA to continue to ratchet up industry achievements through its rating systems.

The memorandum of understanding signed by the three green building bodies outlines a commitment to work towards common goals regarding high-performance buildings in Australia, potentially through a joint certification process.

According to GBCA chief executive Romilly Madew, the commitment will include work to align Green Star credits with Living Building Challenge Imperatives, research on the gap between best practice design and operation, collaboration on events and courses, and promotion of leading practices in Australia.

“By aligning our activities, our rating systems and our efforts, we can drive the adoption of sustainable building practices at a faster pace, and demonstrate the value of a sustainable future,” Ms Madew said.

“A central part of the partnership will be to identify the connections between Green Star credits and LBC Imperatives, which will help identify a pathway for joint certification. This collaboration will also enable us to explore integrating leading LBC Imperatives into Green Star through our Innovation Challenges.”

Living Future Institute of Australia chair Mary Casey said the partnership was an opportunity to assess how the rating tools could “complement and reinforce each other and continue to move the building industry towards a socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative future”.

“We are keen to explore how the cross-pollination of LBC and Green Star could lead to better outcomes for project teams using either system and open up opportunities to use them jointly,” she said.

International Living Future Institute chief executive Amanda Sturgeon said the partnership was good news for the Australian green building industry.

“LBC has created a high bar for sustainable building, and it is one that is becoming increasingly possible,” she said. “Exploring the connections between LBC and Green Star is a logical step that can take the Australian green building industry to the next innovative level.”

Amongst a multitude of exacting criteria, the Living Building Challenge Imperatives requires that buildings be net zero water, energy and waste, as well not contain any chemicals and substances contained on a red list.

The news of GBCA’s partnership with perhaps the world’s most rigorous green building standard follows criticism made in 2014 from GBCA co-founders Ché Wall and Maria Atkinson, who said the organisation risked watering down its influence by extending Green Star to buildings that weren’t at the cutting edge.

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  1. This is a really exciting initiative as it provides a pathway for projects motivated to go beyond the 6 Star Green Star benchmark but that may not be in a position to achieve all of the Living Building Challenge imperatives an opportunity to be rewarded for achieving something in between. Well done to everyone involved.

  2. As a former Director of CSC UK responsible for BREEAM and former VP USGBC responsible for LEED I think that this could be good or bad news – raising the bar on key issues like climate change is definitely needed, but marginalising these issues with too many nice-to-have credits will not be good news. The tendancy in developing rating systems is always to add things that a stakeholder considers important. It is MUCH harder to take things out and upset those stakeholders. As a result rating tools tend to blow out in credits, complexity, inconvenience, documentation cost, appraisal cost and get more and more exclusive to the BIG end of town. Then when all the BIG players are achieving the same, they give up because there is no marketing differentiator.