Let’s mainstream the net zero message

26 Aug 2020

You may have seen the media coverage this month arising from our new report, Green Star in focus: The case for sustainable industrial buildings. The message is clear: without net zero commitments, billions of dollars of industrial buildings risk becoming ‘stranded assets’.

The report, a collaborative effort with the New Zealand GBC, comes at an inflection point for the industrial sector. Five years of e-commerce growth occurred in the first six months of 2020. Some analysts estimate we’ll need an extra 350,000 sqm of industrial space each year just to meet demand.

The sheer size of most industrial facilities mean they play a big role in boosting our rooftop solar PV capacity. Our report shows that installing PV on all of Australia’s industrial facilities would almost double our solar capacity from the current 6,500 Megawatts to 12,800MW.

Charter Hall, which has 131 Green Star-rated industrial facilities in its portfolio, has installed 3,800 solar panels on the Woolworths distribution centre in Dandenong South. This is enough to meet 20% of the building’s energy needs and deliver a return on investment within five years. 

Backed by Green Star-rated assets, Goodman Group topped the global GRESB table for industrial developers in 2019. Investors now have extra assurance their assets are future-proofed.

Frasers Property Australia, meanwhile, says its Green Star-rated industrial buildings save tenants $1.11 per sqm each year on operating costs when compared with competitors’ non-certified warehouses. This sizeable saving equates to around $24,000 a year for a 20,000 sqm warehouse. (You can read more about Frasers Property’s perspective in our feature article from Andrew Thai in this issue of Green Building Voice.)

These three examples underscore why tenants and owners are demanding Green Star-rated industrial assets. Aside from cost savings and investment attraction, the report identifies other benefits of certified industrial assets, from employee retention and satisfaction to the ability to tap into green loans.

Alongside our solid value case for industrial buildings, we have taken the lessons learnt from pioneers in the industrial sector to develop new technical guidance and streamlined pathways

We think this winning combination – of technical enhancements backed by a solid business case – will drive better building outcomes in the industrial space. So expect to see us deliver similar sector-based research in the year ahead.

As we scale our efforts in Australia, our global counterparts are also gearing up. The theme of this year’s World Green Building Week, which will be held from 21-25 September, is #ActOnClimate. It’s a rallying cry which urges policymakers, governments and our own industry to take net zero solutions to scale.

I’m very proud of the work of GBCA members QIC and Mott MacDonald, which both recently signed up to the WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.

As they promise to meet net zero emissions targets by 2030, QIC and Mott MacDonald join a group of 100 organisations covering nearly 6,000 assets, 32 million sqm of total floor area and AUD$140 billion in annual turnover.

QIC – which has almost one million sqm of retail floor space in Australia – is taking a “proactive and data-driven approach” to net zero, says managing director Michael O’Brien. Enhancing the environmental performance of QIC’s assets will “ensure they remain valuable and relevant in an increasingly sustainability-focused future”.

Mott MacDonald’s Denise Bower says her engineering and consulting firm is determined to “use our knowledge, ingenuity and influence to help the world successfully transition to a low-carbon future”.

We applaud both signatories for their work helping to drive market transformation and mainstream the net zero message.