Global green communities

As an industry organisation, we enjoy a somewhat unique position. Looking internationally, we are part of a global community and play a prominent role in the network of 73 Green Building Councils that make up the World Green Building Council. At home, our membership encompasses an extraordinary multiplicity of companies, as diverse in size as they are in sector. But the strong linkages between these domestic and global realms is plain to see in the results of our most recent member survey.

It shows that almost three-quarters of our member companies are active in international markets or are part of global companies. And this activity is set to deepen with some 63 per cent saying they have either the appetite, the capacity - or both - to explore new markets in the next three years.

In very positive news more than half of those surveyed noted their intention to also boost investment in Australia, no doubt reflecting their favourable perception of the nation’s economic progress. An overwhelming 78 per cent of respondents thought Australia’s economy was either outperforming or on par with other economies globally and in our region. Perhaps most exciting of all was the revelation that 55 per cent of companies expected to increase the number of people in their organisation working on the sustainable built environment. This is further evidence of our members leading with their actions.

The Federal Government finds itself at the other end of the good news spectrum, with only a quarter of survey respondents expressing confidence in them, and many more saying they were either not confident (37 per cent) or neutral (38 per cent). This stands in stark contrast to the much higher levels of confidence members have in state and local governments, at 47 and 43 per cent respectively.

What differentiates between the two sides of this very pronounced divide is the issue of leadership.

We have seen state and local governments stand up and push forward projects that will deliver vastly-improved outcomes on the ground, whether it be investments in major infrastructure projects like Metronet, better precinct-wide planning decisions such as the blanket commitment to the exclusively Green Star development at Fishermans Bend in Victoria and Bowden in South Australia, or local leadership like on Parramatta Square.

Five years on from its introduction, Green Star - Communities is proving itself to be one of the world’s leading tools for precinct-wide ratings. We now have almost half a million people moving into Green Star communities around the country, with a growing 6 Star Green Star certified cohort that stretches from Lendlease’s Alkimos Beach in Western Australia to Stockland’s Aura in Queensland to Frasers Property Australia’s Fairwater in Western Sydney and down to the Ginninderry JV pilot project in the ACT.

These and other Green Star projects are a testament to the undeniable and increasing appetite from developers, governments and consumers for the benefits these type of communities can provide. And it should come as no surprise when those benefits – too numerous to list in one short column – encompass everything from health to productivity, the colocation of housing with employment opportunities and proximity to public transport.

It is obvious that our leaders at the national level are becoming more attuned to the change unfolding around them. The signing of a number of City Deals, including in Western Sydney, Geelong, Darwin and Hobart, are a step in the right direction. Crunch time will come of course in the implementation phase, where accountability must be preserved to ensure projects on the ground are delivered in line with what has been promised. Indications that the upcoming Federal Budget will be big on funding for road and rail, and the commitment to part fund a rail link to Melbourne airport as part of this, are similarly encouraging signs. With our continued advocacy and action from industry, hopefully, over time the Federal Government too will rise to the leadership challenge our Green Star communities are setting.