Green Star delivering market transformation

31 Jan 2019

With Green Star Future Focus set to chart a bold new course for industry in 2019, we take a moment to celebrate the success of Australia’s only holistic rating scheme for sustainability in the built environment; delivering market transformation for over fifteen years.

In 2018 Green Star celebrated a landmark milestone, certifying its 2,000th project – the 6 Star Green Star rated 105 Philip Street, Parramatta. The impressive building is a collaborative hub that melds high performance office space for 1,800 NSW Department of Education employees with 21st century learning spaces for Western Sydney University.

Since its foundation in 2003 Green Star has continued to raise the bar each year, responding to new challenges, technological advances and elevating the rating tool’s benchmarks to push industry to the next level.

Australia’s built environment practitioners have responded to the GBCA’s leadership through Green Star with gusto, collectively certifying over 38 per cent of Australia’s office space; 32 million square metres of building space. That’s more than the entire Sydney CBD. 1.3 million Australians visit a Green Star rated shopping centre every day, and over half a million Australians will call home to a Green Star-rated community.

These figures reflect the maturity of Green Star as a market-led rating tool that has demonstrated the value of Australia’s world-leadership in driving transformation through industry to deliver greater productivity, efficiency and sustainability.

We know that Green Star rated buildings deliver enormous savings in energy, water use, waste and emissions compared to the average building. And there is now an enormous body of established research internationally that details the benefits of independent third party rating tools, like Green Star, to drive improved outcomes in the broadest sense.

The GBCA is proud to support the World Green Building Council’s Better Places for People Program, bringing together an incredible evidence base that supports green buildings as more productive and healthier places for people.

The key to Green Star’s success?

Green Star encompasses the whole lifecycle of a project. This includes the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings, as well as the communities in which they sit.

The Green Star - Communities rating tool, launched in 2015, looks beyond bricks and mortar to assess initiatives across precincts including transport, liveability, governance, economic prosperity.

This is in addition to established Green Star sustainability categories including energy, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions, management systems, design, and indoor environment quality.

A Green Star rating provides independent assurance that particular benchmarks or features have been met to an agreed standard.

The Green Star - Performance rating tool, used by nearly 1,000 projects, delivers ongoing measured sustainability in buildings.

The GBCA keeps itself accountable by ensuring that Green Star itself is regularly audited under ISO 9001.

It has a number of quality management system processes in place to check rigour.

Reducing carbon emissions through Green Star

Since 2003, 3.8 billion kilograms of carbon have been saved as a result of new buildings rated under the Green Star rating system. That’s 840 million kilograms of carbon cut from our atmosphere each year.

To put it into context, it’s the equivalent of removing 261,000 cars from our roads every year or eliminating the emissions of 46,700 households.

Today, the average 6 Star Green Star building has a carbon footprint 69 per cent than a standard practice building.

Through the Carbon Positive Roadmap, released in 2018, the GBCA has mapped out a set of steps required for commercial, institutional and government buildings and fitouts to decarbonise.

The roadmap proposes a range of policy positions for industry to support and calls for upgrades to energy efficiency requirements in the national construction code.

The cost of building 4, 5 and 6 Star Green Star rated buildings

Since the launch of Green Star in 2003, the cost associated with using the Green Star rating tools has continued to decrease. The average cost of Green Star is now 2.5 per cent per project. This figure drops to 2.3 per cent when in the office market. This data being captured through the financial disclosure credit.

Our research shows that many Green Star rated  projects have been delivered for 1 per cent or less of the total project’s budget.

A review of over 100 individual Green Star rated projects found the average cost of a 4 Star rating to be 0.9 per cent of total budget, 2.6 per cent of total budget for a 5 Star Green Star rating and 2.9 per cent of total budget for a 6 Star Green Star rating.

These reductions in costs have been achieved by streamlining the Green Star rating tools in each new iteration that is released to market.

Additionally, increased demand has seen our supply chains expand to provide more sustainable products and services at lower costs.

Educating industry

The GBCA’s professional development program has successfully trained and upskilled hundreds of Green Star practitioners, raising the bar for all of industry by embedding sustainability at all levels.

In 2019, we will continue to evolve our program, releasing refreshed Green Star foundation courses and leveraging input from professional services consultancies, learning consultants, universities, and online providers.

And our focus extends beyond just educating and inspiring the industry. We are also working with academia to bring Green Star into educational offerings in university courses. 

An upskilled built environment industry ensures we are establishing commercial drivers for more sustainable practices and products as a whole.

Where to next for Green Star?

It is important to celebrate the success of Green Star. It is the leadership and innovation championed since its inception in 2003, which has helped inform the success and maturity in the market transformation we have seen over the last decade.

This transformation extends beyond just Green Star rated buildings. Leadership through Green Star has seen new services, products and supply chains shift to accommodate market demand.

In 2019 our Green Star Future Focus program challenges our industry to continue to strive forward, to test bold ideas and take established thinking to a new level. We are in the process of conducting extensive consultation with industry to ensure the rating tool meets all of our collective needs in the future.

Our vision is for a 6 Star rating to become shorthand for net zero carbon by 2025. Green Star benchmarks will be elevated to meet Paris Agreement targets, as well as other ecology, biodiversity, transport and health imperatives.

The next iteration of Green Star will also broaden the rating tool’s scope to include issues such as resilience, social sustainability and human rights issues.

In addition, the GBCA continues to work with the Australian Building Codes Board to make improvements to the building code.

Engage with us, we want to hear from you. Over the coming months we’ll be calling on Green Star users to provide input before the new iteration of the tool is launched to market in 2020. Find out more here.