Five minutes with GBCA’s Taryn Cornell

Wunggurrwil Dhurrung Centre, VIC. Wyndham City Council. 5 Star Green Star - Design & As Built v1.1

29 Jul 2021

What process did you go through to develop the Green Star Indigenous Innovation Challenge and the Green Star Buildings’ Indigenous Inclusion credit?

GBCA was approached by WSP who provide Indigenous Specialist Services. With them, we recognised there was a gap in the scope of the Green Star rating tools. We were rewarding projects that recognised heritage and historical culture, as well as Reconciliation Action Plans which facilitate indigenous inclusion in operational and construction contexts, but there was nothing to reward projects that were including First Nations voices or design principles in their building developments.

Bringing this knowledge into the design process, and collaborating on developing culture in a living way, was really important to recognise, and we wanted the Innovation Challenge and the credit to respond to that. Both step off from the great work of the Australian Indigenous Design Charter by embedding early participation and consultation with local Aboriginal groups. Before publication, we consulted with Chels Marshall and Jason Twill who have done a lot of work on bridging Western and Aboriginal Knowledge Systems, and they helped map out some future directions for what these could look like..

Taryn Cornell
Taryn Cornell, Senior Manager – Green Star Strategy and Development, GBCA

What are some ways our buildings and places can connect us with country, so we can start to heal it?

Recognition of country and culture is a big step. We build and develop on land that has a long, rich history which is still evolving. There are so many stories to be told and many more to be written. By bringing in the principles of Indigenous Led, Community Specific, Impact of Design and Shared Knowledge to the design process, projects have a practical way to approach truth telling, collaboration and co-creation. 

What's your advice for project teams looking to engage local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities?

Start the conversation. Reach out to your relevant Aboriginal Land Council and get to know your community. You can also look at the Designing with Country work the NSW Architect has been doing, and their Connecting with Country Draft Framework. Our places and buildings can only be better if we bring in First Nations knowledge and thinking to designs by engaging local Indigenous consultants and designers – that’s the great thing about diversity and inclusion, we can all learn together and the journey will take us to surprising outcomes. Do your research, ask questions and be open to listening. 

Both the Challenge for legacy rating tools and the credit in Green Star Buildings are first big steps for our industry towards recognising and honouring the ancient history and culture of this land. What do you hope to see beyond the Challenge and the credit?

Both are really about starting conversations with the custodians of a living culture. It’s an enormous privilege to work alongside Indigenous partners and engage with the world’s oldest continuous living culture through language and stories. Learning about the concepts such as Makarrata (reflection and truth telling) and how we can make more inclusive spaces is really important.

We would love to hear what is going on in industry and how project teams are applying either the Innovation Challenge or the credit in Green Star Buildings, or any similar initiatives, to their projects.

How can people learn more about the Challenge or the credit?

The Innovation Challenge can be downloaded from the Resources Portal on your dashboard on the GBCA website. The credit is found in the Green Star Buildings Submission Guidelines under the People Category. You can read about how we partnered with DLG Shape to develop both, and we’ll share more about this at an event with Shape soon, so keep an eye on our upcoming events. You can read more about the Australian Indigenous Design Charter here, and as always, make sure you're familiar with the Uluru Statement of the Heart.