Lead global, act local

In sustainability circles, we often hear the cliché “think global, act local”. But at the Green Building Council of Australia we live by the principle of “lead global, act local”.

Last week, the GBCA and our New Zealand counterparts re-signed the Green Star license agreement which will continue to support our rating system’s acceleration throughout our region.

Since Green Star entered the New Zealand market in 2008, and with South Africa in the same year, more than 650 commercial projects in both countries have achieved ratings. This is more than a license agreement. It is a partnership that is expanding our mutual horizons and driving market transformation.

Earlier this year I had the privilege of speaking at the NZGBC’s Green Property Summit, and I was impressed by the strength of the relationship between our two councils, and by the complementary expertise we can offer our markets.

While I was there, NZGBC CEO Andrew Eagles and the ANZ bank announced a “healthy” home loan package for Kiwis wanting to build or upgrade their houses to meet a  Homestar rating of 6 stars or above. While meeting a 6 Homestar standard will cost around 1.5 per cent more to build, the NZGBC says it will save $500 a year in running costs as well as $1,000 on interest.

Homestar has 1,200 certifications and a further 25,000 in the pipeline. As we sharpen our strategic focus on homes in Australia, there is much we can learn from the New Zealand marketplace. Our residential sector is responsible for 57 per cent of the built environment’s emissions and we need a clear standard for housing. Our work with the NZGBC, GBCA’s Future Homes Champions and other industry leaders can help deliver that standard and scale our impact.

Partnerships like the one between the GBCA and the NZGBC are important for our region. Sixty per cent of the world’s population – 4.3 billion people – live in the Asia Pacific, and we are already home to 16 of the world’s 28 megacities. As our region’s population expands, the GBCA’s long-term leadership with the WorldGBC’s Asia Pacific Regional Network is supporting the construction of net zero carbon buildings.

In our own neck of the woods, our rapidly growing cities present an enormous opportunity to support a more ambitious national decarbonisation agenda, especially when it comes to the record $100 billion infrastructure pipeline. A new report from the Construction Climate Challenge underscores how infrastructure procurement can help us drive down carbon emissions and manage climate risk.

Meanwhile, the WorldGBC’s global Advancing Net Zero project now has 52 signatories – including more Australian companies than any other nation. Advancing Net Zero is helping us to build scale by connecting the micro and the macro. We’ve brought together assets as iconic as the Sydney Opera House and as diverse as Dexus’ portfolio under the one umbrella. And the combination of both corporates and cities is important, as Advancing Net Zero responds to both hard-nosed economics and community consensus. It’s live and exciting work and one of the reasons why I was attracted to the GBCA.

I am proud to have worked for a global leader in sustainability, Stockland, and I understand how the GBCA’s global leadership translates into real-world outcomes.

Our eight years at the top of the GRESB table illustrates how Australia’s global leadership in commercial building manifests through carbon abatement, investment attraction and property values. The GBCA’s other strategic focus areas – social infrastructure and homes – demands that same level of global leadership through local action, and that’s where we’ll be placing our efforts over the coming months. Join us!