Light and shadow

30 Aug 2021

A word from Davina Rooney, CEO, Green Building Council of Australia

It’s been a tough month for many of us as life in lockdown takes a heavy toll. Wherever you are in Australia, the GBCA team is 100% committed to our members, our shared vision and our focus on the future.

COVID-19 continues to cast a long shadow over Australia but there are many bright spots to buoy our spirits. The nation’s economic outlook remains broadly positive, with the Reserve Bank expecting 4% GDP growth in 2022 and 2.5% in 2023. The Property Council’s most recent confidence barometer showed our industry is incredibly resilient. And as record-breaking investment in infrastructure continues at pace, we know the work of nation-building has not slowed.

Support for sustainable building continues to grow. Signatories to the WorldGBC’s Advancing Net Zero project now includes 28 cities. Investors are also turning towards sustainable assets at an accelerating rate. The Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, which only launched in December 2020, now has $57 trillion in assets moving towards net zero.

Consumers want brands to stand for sustainability and 87% of Australians are trying to change their buyer behaviour. Mainstream media is more interested in the sustainability conversation than ever before, and has been watching with interest as we gear up to launch the Green Star Homes Standard to the market.

After two years of listening and learning, we now have an industry-agreed standard for a healthy, resilient and net zero energy home and a large cohort of partners ready to roll up their sleeves to meet the Green Homes standard. Read all about it in this issue of Green Building Voice.

The long-awaited National Construction Code 2022 residential provisions are now out for consultation. The movement from 6 star NatHERS to 7 star NatHERS is an unmatched opportunity to lift housing standards for a generation. We will be active in this consultation and encourage our members and partners to also share their views. Now is the time. 

These are just a few points of positivity at a time when it is hard to see beyond the shadows – and I won’t pretend the shadows don’t loom large. The IPCC’s latest report makes it clear. The decade of decarbonisation is upon us.

We have a clear plan for net zero emissions and Green Star Buildings is driving down operational emissions at scale by rewarding projects that are fully-electric, fossil fuel-free and 100% renewable.

But we also know that a huge percentage of our building emissions are locked in before anyone ever steps through a front door. In fact, for the first time, with the help of thinkstep-anz, we’ve quantified this figure. While embodied carbon made up 16% of built environment emissions in 2019, without action this share will balloon to 85% by 2050, according to Embodied Carbon & Embodied Energy in Australia’s Buildings.

The report, which was commissioned by the Australian Government, is the cornerstone of a new conversation we must start across the industry. We now have the beginnings of a business case as we develop a new scale of partnership – one which brings together everyone along the length of the supply chain. Our Head of Market Transformation, Jorge Chapa, gives us the lowdown.

Finally, this issue of Green Building Voice proudly features Jono Nicholas, founder of The Wellbeing Outfit. Jono joined a GBCA webinar recently to share strategies that can sustain our wellbeing during these tough times. One of the insights I valued was to encourage people to respond to new information in a “kind, curious and connected way” rather than in anger or fear, which is easy to do in a crisis. Anyone who would like to watch a replay of the webinar can do so at any time.

While we are physically distant, the GBCA continues to look for ways to keep our network of sustainability champions close and connected. Please continue to reach out to let us know how we can support you as we look towards the light.