Driving sustainability at scale

30 Sep 2020

A word from Davina Rooney, CEO, Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA)

When I started my career as a graduate engineer, a Green Star rating was often pursued for a one-off project packed-full of design tricks and advanced technology. As a ‘sustainability showcase’, that project demonstrated leadership and capability without ever requiring a large-scale commitment.

For many years now, we have been working to change that ‘sustainability showcase’ mindset. Today, as we celebrate an extraordinary 3,000 Green Star certifications, I think we have clear evidence of our industry’s determination to drive sustainability at scale.

Our 3,000 certifications was serendipitously timed with World Green Building Week, which this year called for industry, policymakers and governments to #ActOnClimate by delivering net zero buildings – and, importantly, to bring solutions to scale.

One way we are bringing solutions to scale is by championing the WorldGBC’s Advancing Net Zero commitment. Two GBCA members, QIC and Mott MacDonald, recently joined a growing cohort of signatories setting their sights on net zero by 2030. With 19 Australian companies committed to Advancing Net Zero, we now have more signatories than any other nation. (To dive into the detail of how net zero is gaining mompodentum, listen to our podcast with GBCA Policy Manager Tim Wheeler and ClimateWorks Data Analyst, Coral Bravo who is driving the Net Zero Momentum Tracker).

We are seeing solutions at scale in sectors that once lagged the leaders in commercial offices. The acceleration of e-commerce this year is fuelling demand for industrial space, and we have new industrial developers knocking on our door every week because their customers are asking for Green Star space. (Read more about this trend in our recent report, Green Star in focus: The case for sustainable industrial buildings.)

In the retail sector, developers and landlords are no longer solely leading the charge, and we are so excited to have Woolworths and Coles, L’Occitane and Country Road, among others, currently committing to Green Star projects. 

Just as retail has undergone a dramatic shift from transactional to experiential, commercial offices are now on that same journey. Developers and asset owners know they need to reposition the office as more than bricks-and-mortar and are turning to Green Star for help. Investa’s Barrack Place in Sydney, which has a 6 Star Green Star rating, was recently recognised with the Property Council of Australia’s Rider Levett Bucknall NSW Development of the Year award. Announcing the award, the Property Council’s acting NSW Executive Director Belinda Ngo said Investa had “transformed an uninspiring 1960s concrete tower into an exceptional office building that embodies the future of work”. In the residential sector, our Green Star Homes standard is still open for consultation until 30 October. To achieve widespread change at scale, the standard will target volume home builders and large residential developers. Several partners are ready to pilot the standard through our early access program, including Stockland, Mirvac, Metricon and Rawson Homes, along with Chatham Homes, Passive House and Landcom. Speaking at the Sydney Morning Herald Sustainability Summit recently, Mirvac’s Sustainability Manager David Palin said it eloquently: “If someone asks you about the sustainability credentials of a building you can point to 6 Star Green Star… and most people are going to understand”. A summary of the Summit is included in this issue of Green Building Voice.

We are also delighted to be working with some truly game-changing government projects, from WA’s Metronet to Victoria’s Level Crossing Removal project. Property NSW has recently registered a portfolio of existing buildings, and this commitment is particularly gratifying as it aligns with our vision of sustainable buildings for everyone. Of the 3,000 certified projects on our books, 1,000 are existing buildings underpinned by a commitment to continuous improvement.
Together, our work is gathering speed. Our 3,000 Green Star certifications today are a culmination of 18 years of hard work. Each project tells a unique story, but collectively they share a powerful message of what happens when we drive sustainability at scale.