Industry leaders shine with Green Star ratings in 2017

More than 27 million square metres of building space has been certified under the Green Star rating system, as the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) publishes its annual list of ‘Green Star leaders’.

“Each year, we crunch the numbers to identify the annual leaders who have led the industry by challenging business norms, testing new ideas and pushing the boundaries of best practice. And each year, we are bowled over by the industry’s leadership,” says the GBCA’s Chief Executive, Romilly Madew.

“The area of Green Star certified space has almost doubled in the past two years, up 93 per cent from the end of 2015,” Ms Madew says.

The GBCA certified 304 projects in 2017, taking the grand total of Green Star projects certified since the rating system was launched in 2003 to 1,721.

“Importantly, we registered 525 new Green Star projects in 2017. This is up from 416 in 2016 and 277 in 2015. This speaks volumes about the growing influence of Green Star on the market,” Ms Madew says.

“Sustainability is synonymous with building quality, with more than half of all ASX 50 companies operating from Green Star buildings. Increasingly, investors, tenants and building owners understand a Green Star rating helps to manage risk and enhance reputation,” Ms Madew says.

Certification leadership

Charter Hall gained Green Star certification for its entire portfolio in 2017, with an impressive 179 ratings in total (178 buildings, and 1 portfolio rating).

“Charter Hall now has the largest Green Star-rated portfolio in Australia by both number of projects and area, with an eye-watering 3.1 million square metres of Green Star space. Charter Hall now has a baseline as it increases the operational performance of its assets, while also enhancing the experience for tenants and the value for shareholders,” Ms Madew says.

Charter Hall’s Perth and Melbourne state offices have also received WELL Certified™ Silver ratings from the International WELL Building Institute, making it the first company in Australia to achieve an interior rating in Victoria and the first project in Western Australia to achieve WELL accreditation.

Charter Hall Group CEO & MD David Harrison says: “We are proud to have Australia’s largest Green Star footprint, with 178 of our office, retail and industrial assets achieving a Green Star – Performance rating and 19 Green Star ratings for projects achieving 5 Star Green Star or above. We care about the environments we create for our tenants, the communities we operate in and for our people. Achievement of these ratings provides us with a framework to set longer-term targets to continually improve our performance and to deliver superior returns for our investors.”

Looking at the ongoing leadership with Green Star, Frasers Property Australia maintains a steadfast commitment to rate all new projects and existing properties with Green Star. Frasers Property has registered 82 buildings for Green Star – Performance ratings in 2017, as well as 24 other projects. When these projects are certified it will take Frasers Property’s total to 231.

“Frasers Property is absolutely committed to sustainability, and has the portfolio of rated assets to prove this. Frasers Property has individual green icons – like One Central Park, The Ponds and Fairwater – as well as more Green Star industrial facilities than any other developer in the country,” Ms Madew says.

“We have now committed to Green Star certification across everything we do – whether that’s a new retail development or community, or an existing industrial facility – because we see this as an important benchmark and validation of our work in sustainability,” says Frasers Property Australia’s General Manager, Sustainability, Paolo Bevilacqua.

“Looking ahead, we believe it’s important that Green Star continues to evolve to reflect changing policy and market conditions, which will help us shape the buildings and communities of the future.”

Ms Madew says Investa Office Management also deserves applause for certifying a portfolio of 27 assets.

“Investa consistently demonstrates that sustainability provides a pathway to long-term investment returns, as well as shareholder and community value,” Ms Madew says.

Investa CEO Jonathan Callaghan says: “Investa continues to drive value for investors via the integration of sustainability principles across the platform. Since 2004, Investa has reduced carbon emissions intensities by 58 per cent. Green Star portfolio verification is enormously helpful guiding these reductions, in addition to benchmarking our assets against industry best practice. We are especially proud of our Barrack Place development which has received a 6 Star rating, going above and beyond the original 5 Star target and obtaining the maximum number of innovation points available.”

Commonwealth Bank delivered 10 Green Star certified interiors projects – one 6 Star and nine 5 Star projects – and now has more Green Star bank branches than any of its competitors.

“Commonwealth Bank’s achievement underscores the importance of sustainability as a strategic business decision that offers new opportunities for CBA to engage with customers, attract and retain staff, and demonstrate enduring commitment to corporate responsibility,” Ms Madew says.

Jennifer Saiz, Executive General Manager Group Property and Security, Commonwealth Bank, says: “Commonwealth Bank is proud to now have 10 Green Star branches across Australia. As an organisation, we look to drive positive change through good business practice, and building and operating more sustainable branches is just one way we can achieve this.”

Consultancy leadership

Arup Australasia and WSP worked on more Green Star certified projects than any other consultancy in 2017, with a total of eight each for the year, and a further 38 projects registered in 2017 between them.

“The highly-experienced team at Arup has influenced the design and delivery of some of Australia’s most iconic green building projects. Arup's legacy this year includes Green Square Library and Plaza, 200 George Street and several new railway stations in Victoria,” Ms Madew says.

"The impressive results produced by the very capable team at WSP this year is inspiring, encompassing a wide breadth of sectors including everything from showrooms, schools and shopping centres to workshops and warehouses,” Ms Madew adds.

Peter Bailey, Chair and CEO of Arup in Australasia and Group Sustainability Director says: “This is the third year in a row that Arup has delivered the highest number of Green Star projects – a clear demonstration of the commitment our clients and Arup have to embedding sustainable best practice in building design. For instance, we’ve been able to achieve a great sustainability story for 200 George Street in Sydney by focussing on building performance, tenant amenity and innovation credits within the Green Star rating tools. We look forward to working alongside GBCA to continue to push the boundaries of sustainable buildings design in Australia”.

WSP’s Director of Sustainability, Richard Palmer, says: "WSP Sustainability is proud to lead the industry in broadening its approach to certification across a wide range of asset types – from industrial sheds to hospitality mega-projects and residential communities; all while maintaining our presence in the commercial office and retail sectors. We thank the GBCA for its market leadership and excellent industry support for benchmarking sustainability in the built environment”. 

Ms Madew also singled out the achievements of three sustainability leaders: Lendlease, Stockland and Mirvac.

Lendlease also deserves applause for topping the GRESB table, achieving the first 6 Star Green Star – Performance portfolio and leading the certification of 10 retail outlets in 2017. Lendlease was closely followed by JLL, which drove the Green Star process on nine Commonwealth Bank branch fitouts.

Stockland was the only Australian company to be included on the 2017 Climate A list released by CDP, the non-profit global environmental disclosure platform. In September, Stockland committed to roll out Australia’s largest ever property solar project at 10 of its shopping centres across the country, which will see more than 39,000 photo voltaic panels installed.

And Mirvac was ranked the most sustainable real estate company in the world by Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which assesses the world’s 2,500 largest publicly traded companies.

The state by state story

Of the 304 Green Star projects certified in 2017, 115 came from New South Wales. This was followed by Victoria (68), Queensland (57), West Australia (41), South Australia (12), ACT (6), and Tasmania (3) and NT (2).

“Among the stand-out achievements this year, the Victorian Government achieved ratings for seven railway stations under the Level Crossing Removal Project. Victoria’s rail infrastructure is arguably the world’s greenest,” Ms Madew says.

Ms Madew also says the Victorian Government’s draft framework for Fishermans Bend, which will one day be home to 80,000 people, “establishes a clear vision for Australia’s largest urban renewal precinct, and has made a firm commitment to sustainability outcomes by registering to achieve a Green Star – Communities rating, and to mandate 4 Star Green Star for all buildings on the site”.

Ms Madew also applauds the Victorian Government’s Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy, which includes new investments in the Victorian Energy Upgrades program and incentives for energy efficiency improvements across commercial buildings.

In Queensland, the release of the Queensland Building Plan has been a significant policy win for the GBCA, as it “progresses many of our industry’s recommendations.” Among them are measures to improve the sustainability of Queensland Government buildings, reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency.”

Ms Madew says other wins for the sustainability sector this year have been the collaborative engagement between the federal Department of Environment and Energy and NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (NABERS team) to deliver the National Carbon Offset Standards for buildings and communities, and the ongoing leadership of local governments.

“I’d like to pay particular tribute to the Adelaide City Council for its work delivering Carbon Neutral Adelaide. This is truly ground-breaking and raises the bar for other cities around Australia.

“Thirty-seven per cent of the nation’s office space is now Green Star rated and more than 725,000 Australians work in Green Star-rated offices. A further 42,000 people live in Green Star-rated apartments. More than 425,000 people are moving into Green Star-rated communities, and 1.3 million people visit a Green Star-rated shopping centre each day,” Ms Madew says.

“Investors, tenants and owners increasingly regard superior sustainability as an indicator of quality. And that is driving more companies to seek Green Star ratings as they demonstrate their commitment to green, not greenwash.”