The People Project: Devan Valenti, Future Focus Manager

28 May 2019

​The next generation of Green Star rating tools are in the works, with a dedicated team working collaborative industry to ensure they tackle key issues such as carbon emissions, social infrastructure and biodiversity. Devan Valenti, Future Focus Manager, walks us through this journey.

What does your day-to-day role look like as Future Focus Manager?

Every day is different, but mostly, my role is around engaging with industry whilst developing the new rating tool. It’s important to remember that Green Star is developed by industry for industry. It’s in response to constant feedback we hear from sustainability practitioners. We need to ensure we engage them at every stage along the way to be confident that it responds to and reflects industry’s needs.

We also have a fantastic group of around 140 participants on our expert reference panels, who are helping us develop the new Green Star rating tools. Interacting and learning from these inspiring experts is one of the many highlights of my role.

Green Star is undergoing the most significant overhaul since its inception 15 years ago. What will this entail?

Indeed, it’s an exciting time for industry. We’re building on the success of Green Star to create a new suite of rating tools that will be relevant for the next decade. These tools will continue to drive sustainable buildings and respond to some of the most pressing matters of our time. Our new proposal responds to the material issues that industry believe will impact the built environment.

It’s an incredibly exciting transformation as all of our rating tools are under revision: Green Star for New Buildings, Green Star for New Fitouts, Green Star for New Communities, and Green Star for Building Performance.

What are the core focus areas under Green Star Future Focus?

First is our definition of a sustainable building. For 15 years we’ve used the same framework and although these have been fantastic in driving over 2,250 certifications and being the backbone to many building’s we can be proud of, we felt the time was now to refresh the framework. In Future Focus, all Green Star buildings will be healthy, resilient and positive places for people and nature, built responsibly and leaders.

Second is our aggressive carbon targets. Carbon is a key pillar in our Strategic Plan, so we’ve also proposed some ambitious targets to drive emission reductions. At this stage, we’re proposing that all world leading buildings be net zero carbon in operations.

Thirdly, we’re designing the rating tool with people in mind. Whilst we’ll continue to drive environmental outcomes related to carbon, water and waste, Green Star Future Focus broadens the scope to begin addressing many social issues. Buildings are for people, and the new rating tools emphasises this.

Finally, although we’re pushing the top end of the spectrum, creating world leading buildings, we also have a strong desire to create a more accessible Green Star. We’ve put considerable thought into how we can help more buildings certify and deliver better sustainability outcomes.  

There are many others, and you can read up about them here.

Are these guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Absolutely. It’s been fantastic to see the traction the SGD’s have received globally. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, which were mostly relevant to developing countries, the SDGs are being incorporated in all countries. The mobilisation around the goals has been amazing, and as the organisation responsible for one of Australia’s leading rating systems, we must ensure our users capitalise on the opportunities and mitigate risks from drivers such as these.

This appendix shows exactly how we’re responding to the SDGs, along with the Paris Agreement, Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) and the Task-Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD).

How can members get involved in shaping the next generation of rating tools?

Respond to the consultation paper in writing! This is our way of formally capturing feedback and using it to inform the next stage of development. We also constantly have webinars, workshops and other events on Future Focus, so keep a lookout on our website for more information.

When will Green Star Future Focus hit the market?

The first of the four rating tools (for new buildings) hits the market mid-2020. We’re cognisant that we need to give industry sufficient time to develop the skills and capacity to deliver the new rating. This means we’ll have a transition period of 18 months. Until the end of 2021, projects can register for either Green Star – Design & As Built or Green Star for New Buildings. The remaining rating tools will flow from this, spaced approximately six months apart.