Net zero as the norm

29 Oct 2020

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

This week we launched Green Star Buildings – the biggest overhaul of the Green Star rating system in 18 years.

Over 750 people registered to join us to celebrate a milestone that marks the start of a new era of sustainable building in Australia.

We have delivered a new definition of sustainable building – one that looks beyond the environment to human health, resilience, people and places. We have also handed industry the keys to unlocking net-zero building at scale.

For the last two years we have been in deep consultation with industry. We knew the next iteration of Green Star would last a decade and, as our pathway to 2030, Green Star Buildings had to be both ambitious and pragmatic. With time running out to drastically reduce our carbon emissions, avoid stranded assets and meet our Paris Agreement obligations, we knew Green Star Buildings must drive transformation tomorrow through practical implementation today.

We have a smart, sophisticated industry and have harnessed those smarts to road test the rating tool on a range of projects. Among the projects in the Green Star Early Access Program are Darebin City Council’s fully-electric Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre. There’s Charter Hall’s new logistics hub capable of storing 730 million Mars Bars under one roof. And there’s Powerhouse Parramatta, the largest cultural investment since the Sydney Opera House. We are excited to unpack insights from the project team behind Powerhouse Parramatta and Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre in the first of our series of case studies with you this month.

With every moment precious, the challenge ahead is a daunting one. Buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. While we have a lot of ‘nearly net zero buildings’ in Australia, very few that can lay claim to genuine ‘net zero’ status. Green Star Buildings will help industry to deliver net zero as the norm with a clear requirement that buildings must be fully electric, fossil fuel free and 100% powered by renewables to achieve the highest possible 6 Star rating.

The Green Building Council of Australia has certified more than 1.6 million sqm of new building space every year for the last five years. If we continue at our current rate of Green Star certification over the next decade, we will save the same volume of emissions as 1.32 coal-fired power stations emit in a year. Green Star Buildings will amplify those savings.

The stakes are sky high, which is why we have spent more time in practical application testing than any other rating tool. We will continue this approach as we roll out other rating tools through Green Star Future Focus. Radical innovation requires early partnerships – so please reach out if you would like to be involved in road testing Green Star Performance.

I’m also thrilled to confirm that Green Star Buildings will be powered by an online portal from the first quarter of 2021. This digital transformation project will make it even easier for project teams to deliver sustainability at scale.

Speaking of transformation, we have locked in the dates for next year’s online TRANSFORM conference: Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 March 2021. Delivering net zero as the norm will take our collective efforts, so clear your diary for two days. We can’t wait to see you there.