Green Building Day bolsters momentum for 2 degree world

Green Building Day 2016 highlights

Our Green Building Day events wrapped up in Perth last week with ‘innovations to inspire’ the continued sustainable transformation of our built environment.

The momentum from COP21 Buildings Day was still well and truly alive amongst our Green Building Day presenters and delegates across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

GBCA CEO Romilly Madew set the stage for discussion in Sydney with her welcome making reference to the recently released Australian Built Environment Council – Low Carbon, High Performance report, which finds that we can eliminate emissions from our buildings entirely by 2050.

“We have this massive opportunity to deliver significant improvements and as a collective we must move fast” Romilly said.

In Brisbane, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk showed how our cities are stepping up, discussing the initiatives Brisbane is integrating sustainability for the future.

While in Perth, Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Deborah Terry applauded the event as a positive step towards climate action.

The Climate Institute Chief Executive Officer John Connor and Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Robin Mellon stressed the urgency and the importance of lifting our ambitions and looking at 2 degrees not just as a target but as the maximum.

“We need to wipe low carbon from our vocabulary – it’s net zero or net positive,” John said.

There was resounding support from the panel who all agreed that it’s critical we act now – because if we think it’s hard now it’s only going to get more difficult.

When it came to defining the role that the property and construction industry will play in meeting these targets, ClimateWorks Australia Chief Executive Officer Anna Skarbek commented [in Melbourne] that we need to think step changes, not incremental changes, in improving building efficiency. And to achieve these step changes we’ll need to work together.

The Green Building Day session on ‘partnering for sustainability success,’ looked at how the industry can reach collective goals with pace by working together.

Living Future Institute Australia Chair of the Board Mary Casey gave an approach to collaboration.

“Find gaps, identify where you’re uniquely placed to provide solutions and work with symbiotic partners,” said Mary.

Canberra Urban and Regional Futures Director Professor Barbara Norman linked collaboration to the necessity of the property industry to include sustainability in our collective daily routine.

“We’re building every day so build in better decisions every day and work together to do this,” Prof. Norman said.

It’s important to note that our green building thinking need not be limited to new builds, we can and must green existing buildings. Our speakers explored why sustainability is the solution to vacancy rates.

Both businesses and their employees are expecting more in terms of their workplace.

When it comes to workplaces employees are now after more than just the physical environment to meet their wellbeing needs explained Optus Health and Wellbeing Manager Megan Kingham.

“We need to infuse wellbeing into the physical work environment,” Megan said.

CBRE Director – Sustainability, Pacific, Emma McMahon told audiences in Melbourne that health and wellbeing is here to stay. She went on to say that people are a business’ biggest asset and presenteeism drives productivity.

And it’s the intertwined nature of many global issues – wellbeing, human rights and climate change – that necessitates action IAG Head of Group Shared Value Ramana James explained.

Fittingly in Perth, Premium sponsor Frasers Property Australia were presented with their certificate for their Perth tenancy – Western Australia’s first 6 Star Green Star Interiors v1. This interior embodies the thinking being shared at Green Building Day with 100 percent sit to stand workstations; an electric vehicle charging station and 75 percent of the value of materials and products used in the fitout meeting sustainability and transparency requirements.

The robust discussion at Green Building Day 2016 was exciting – a sign that action is underway and that together we can continue the push for net zero in our built environment. Presentations for sharing are now available - Sydney, MelbourneBrisbane and Perth.

We’d like to thank all our sponsors for making Green Building Day possible. We also give a massive vote of thanks to our Premium Sponsors – Frasers Property Australia, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and Brisbane City Council for their support.