Let’s use our fiscal firepower to create better buildings

08 May 2020

Tim Wheeler, Policy Manager, Green Building Council of Australia

Infrastructure must play a key role in Australia’s economic recovery as we steer our way through the COVID-19 crisis.

Every dollar invested in public infrastructure delivers around four dollars of value in GDP over the life of the asset, making infrastructure investment a clear winner in the months and years ahead.

While speed is crucial in economic stimulus, local governments must ensure they spend each cent wisely. Last week we launched Building to Bounce Back, a policy paper that outlines how governments can use infrastructure investment to drive economic activity, while driving down emissions and creating new value in communities.

Good infrastructure investment does more than build the bricks-and-mortar backbone of communities or move people from A to B. It also helps us deliver on a host of priorities that boost community resilience, enhance liveability and meet long-term challenges likes climate change.

The Green Building Council of Australia has been working closely with our 44 local government members to build strong relationships and add long-term value. Recently, we’ve hosted workshops for local governments from New South Wales and Victoria to unpack the emerging opportunities. Here are the top four: 

     1. Develop a practical plan: Every Building Counts, launched late last year in collaboration with the Property Council, is a policy toolkit for local governments that outlines the steps that reinvigorate the economy, drive down emissions and meet energy productivity targets.

     2. Embed Green Star into planning processes: Our team can guide local governments on the timelines and technical detail, as well as the secrets to building a strong business case for Green Star that achieves development buy-in.

     3. Upskill your people: Use the downtime to help your people expand their knowledge base of Green Star and how it relates to the National Construction Code, NABERS and other mechanisms. Tune into Green Building Day Online on Tuesday 16 June or take part in online learning webinars.

     4. Start a new conversation: Build a narrative that communicates how smart, sustainable investment can help your community’s economic recovery today and support climate action, health and wellbeing tomorrow. 

We have seen sustainability embedded into exemplar local government projects for many years. But now is the time for local governments to step up and take the exemplar approach to every building.

What does leadership look like? Some local governments have declared a climate emergency and set net zero targets. Others are looking at building upgrade programs, smart financing and green door policies – all measures that will fire up the economy while driving down emissions.

COVID-19 can seem like a bump in the road to sustainability – but if local governments think strategically and invest wisely, it can accelerate Australia’s climate action and create stronger communities.