The future focus for Green Star communities and sustainable precincts

26 Apr 2018

GBCA Senior Manager - Market Engagement, Nick Alsop, explores how the next phase of our rating system, Green Star Future Focus, will help shape community development.

GBCA has begun its Future Focus program: re-imagining our Green Star rating tools, to respond to the pressing sustainability issues confronting the future built environment. Within that context, we are examining how GBCA can continue to drive sustainable communities and precincts. Since its first release in 2012 Green Star Communities has driven leadership on a diverse array of projects: greenfield masterplans, university campuses, airports, suburban brownfield sites and large scale urban renewal areas. Concurrently, we have been advocating for smart and sustainable cities, and our collaboration with government and industry is driving new precinct approaches to delivering the social infrastructure that underpins great cities such as hospitals, and metro style rail infrastructure.

Here are some of the issues and opportunities we hope to be challenged by, drawing on the Future Focus program and our lessons from leading projects so far:

Sustainability from fine grain to cities: Sustainability must be present at all scales of a precinct- fitout, building, lot, street and precinct. We have to draw a boundary on our page at some point, but the precinct must contribute to the sustainability of regions, and cities.  Our own home here at Barangaroo is a great example with highly activated laneways and integration with the city through high levels of walkability and public transport.

Bringing nature back in: Our enhancement of nature and habitat, and the reciprocal benefits it provides us, must be interwoven into precincts and communities. Innovations in green infrastructure and biodiversity sensitive urban design allow us to reimagine what’s possible.  No longer do we need to view nature as that national park visited on the weekend.  The masterplanning supporting the Ginninderry community in the ACT and NSW harnesses local biodiversity with a conservation corridor connecting river corridors and covering some 577ha supported by a Community Trust operating across state/territory borders.

Let’s knock carbon out of the park: Period. Sustainable precincts and communities can drive the carbon positive outcomes we surely need. New waves of renewables and battery technologies, coupled with building fabric, operational smarts and intelligent land use planning can see us get there. We are seeing projects like Barangaroo and Fishermans Bend with ambitious carbon reduction commitments in their strategies. Bowden is a great example of a community well connected with greater Adelaide. Within the Bowden community, commitments to energy efficient housing through the Prince’s Terrace at Bowden in South Australia are a showcase for what is possible using 50 per cent less energy and 50 per cent less potable water than a typical dwelling.

Sustainable precincts perform well through their lifecycle: How do we plan, build, interact with and operate precincts in a way that tracks and improves sustainability performance? How do we measure success in the long run, and plan for it now? There’s a huge role for Smart Cities and new governance models to drive this well beyond a development’s full buildout. An interesting example is La Trobe University’s Bundoora Campus, where they are trialling innovative ways of tracking student pedestrian activity and responding with iterative changes in open space design and pedestrian way finding.

So we encourage you to get involved in the GBCA’s Future focus program, and help us define what the precincts and communities of tomorrow need to look like.