Five minutes with Jamie Wallis on sustainable industrial buildings

26 Aug 2020

Investors are increasingly looking for opportunities that help create a resilient property portfolio. How do Green Star projects fit into that equation?

Buildings play a critical role in our environmental footprint, from the carbon that is locked in through material selection during construction, to the energy and water used in operation. Building inefficient, unsustainable buildings locks in poor performance for decades to come. Leading developers and investors understand that in order to future proof their assets, they must deliver buildings that are sustainable. This is where Green Star can provide value - independent certification is the best way for building owners, investors, buyers, tenants or occupants to know that a building has met best practice benchmarks across a range of categories, as well as offering a range of other important benefits. Many companies focusing on greater health and well-being for staff are gaining the productivity benefits that come with providing better workplaces. Others are looking for ways to reduce their operational costs. Green Star certification can help to deliver on all these challenges and more.

What are some of the ways tenants are collaborating with landlords to achieve better sustainability outcomes?

Tenants are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their understanding of sustainability and their own carbon impacts. We are seeing more and more tenants demanding high levels of sustainability right across their operations, including the buildings they occupy, and certification to report this to their stakeholders and investors. A great recent example is the collaboration between Toll, Stockland and Nike. Toll worked with their landlord Stockland and their client Nike to achieve the first carbon neutral certification under the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard, using the Green Star – Performance pathway.

How are volume certifications tracking in the industrial sector?

We are seeing increasing uptake of the volume approach to Green Star certification in the industrial sector. Industrial facilities are particularly well suited to a streamlined volume approach as designs and specifications can be similar, allowing the adoption of a standard approach to leading sustainability in these buildings. It is a great way for developers and owners to also demonstrate the value-add to their prospective clients and tenants, setting themselves apart in a highly competitive market. Through a volume approach with Green Star we are seeing best practice sustainability being successfully embedded as ‘business as usual’.

We spend 90% of our time indoors, so air quality is important. How does research support this?

What is often overlooked in the industrial sector is that these buildings usually have dedicated office space attached, where staff will work regular office hours. These workplaces are important to productivity and staff should enjoy the benefits of improved indoor environment quality. Developers and owners are recognising this and saying, why can’t we focus on these spaces and deliver indoor environment quality to the same standard as you would expect in, for example, a prime CBD office tower? The research is pretty clear on this, as we spend so much of out time indoors the quality of that environment will play a critical role in our overall health, wellbeing and productivity. This goes for industrial facilities as well, whether it is the quality of natural light in the warehouse space or the office accommodation.

How will the next generation of Green Star tools raise the benchmark for sustainable industrial projects?

It is critically important that in the coming decade we really raise the bar in terms of carbon reduction, right across our built environment. This is where the next generation of Green Star tools will play a key role. We set out the carbon trajectory for the built environment in our ‘Carbon Positive Roadmap’ – and the next generation of Green Star tools delivers on this. It is an exciting time, and I can’t wait to see our members step up to the challenge, and see what leadership and innovation looks like over the next decade!