Seven stories from Green Building Day to make you smile

08 Sep 2021

Sustainability champions are natural optimists. But even the most positive among us need the occasional pep talk. Green Building Day gave us so many reasons to smile, but here are just a handful of great stories that you may have missed…

1.       Our leaders zero in on net zero

The WorldGBC's Advancing Net Zero project continues to gather pace. Ten new Australian-signatories have made the commitment to meet net zero by 2030 since Covid-19 crashed on our shores in March 2020. We now have 27 Australian entities – including large companies and city-level governments – working together across 1,035 buildings and 1,313 million sqm metres of space. One of those signatories is Lendlease, which is focused on “mission zero” or what National Sustainability Manager for Property, Andrew Scerri, called “our moonshot”. This means net zero carbon by 2025 and “absolute zero carbon” – including all Scope 3 emissions – by 2040.

2.      Green Star charges ahead despite Covid-19

A massive 440 Green Star registrations over the last 12 months is just once source of positive proof that people aren’t stepping away from sustainability, despite the challenges of Covid-19. Green Star Head of Market Transformation Jorge Chapa sat in the hot seat to answer questions and share updates on the massive program of works underway as part of Green Star Future Focus. Some of the key highlights to look forward to? An online system set to launch in September, new guidance papers on a plethora of subjects from embodied carbon to offsets, and two new Green Star Communities challenges for fossil fuel free precincts and upfront carbon emissions.

3.      GPT Group delivers eye-watering energy efficiency

The GPT Group’s ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its portfolio by 2030 was embraced with such enthusiasm by its people that the target was recently revised back to 2024. Saving $210 million in energy costs and a 75% reduction in emissions intensity since 2005 are big motivators, said Head of Sustainability Steve Ford. But so are investor expectations, authentic customer relationships, risk and reputation. “GPT has the goal to be the most respected property company in Australia – and you can't lay claim to being the most respected if you don't consider future generations,” Steve said.

4.      88 Walker St. shows good design always delivers

As the industry transitions to Green Star Buildings (and with registrations for the legacy ratng tool closing on 17 December 2021), 88 Walker St. in Sydney offers an inspiring case study for sustainability specialists weighing the registration options. 88 Walker St, a collaboration between Billbergia, Fitzpatrick + Partners and WSP, incorporates a four-star business hotel, office and retail. The slender, soaring tower cantilevers over the historic Firehouse Hotel pub, with a small footprint that delivers a lot of upsides: good daylight, an optimised structural design and an attractive street presence among them.

Due for completion in 2022, 88 Walker St. has achieved a 5 Star Green Star Design & As Built v1.2 rating but WSP’s analysis confirms it “maps readily” to Green Star Buildings, said WSP’s Senior Sustainability Consultant Nick Asha. Without major design impacts – and with the help of a zero carbon action plan – a 5 Star Green Star Buildings rating could be achieved if the project were registered today, Nick said. “This building could deliver the goods under the new tool, just the way it delivers the goods under Design & As Built.”

5.      Induction inductions can encourage electrification

About 19 per cent of Australia’s emissions come from natural gas, according to think tank the Grattan Institute. But encouraging people to make the switch to electric takes a shift in mindset. Breathe Architecture, the brains behind Nightingale 1 in Melbourne, has completed 250 all-electric apartments and has another 150-plus under construction. Nightingale 1, which opened in 2017 with an 8.2 Star NatHERS average rating, was designed with “no gas, no question,” said Bonnie Herring, Breathe Architecture’s Director. Cooking with gas can be as bad as passive smoking, our audience heard, but resistance remains. Bonnie said “try before you buy” can help master chefs overcome their objections to electrification. The GBCA will be launching a clean chef campaign later this year, so watch this space.

6.      Country Road shows how sustainability supports authentic retail

Shopping centre owners have been sustainability champions for many years – and (lockdowns aside) 1.8 million people visit a Green Star-rated shopping centre each day. While the base building lays a solid sustainability foundation, retailers have been slower to step up. But not Country Road – which now has 10 Green Star-rated stores and many more in the pipeline. Country Road’s flagship store at Vicinity Centres’ Chadstone shows how a carefully-considered fitout can knit sustainability into the fabric of a brand and deliver a more authentic customer experience.

Everything from the recycled timber parquetry to the clothing hooks sourced from ocean plastics speak the sustainability message. Country Road now has “very large plans” to continue on its Green Star journey, with 30% of stores to be rated by 2024 – “this includes 14 refurbishments, seven expansions and at least four new stores,” said Country Road’s Store Design and Development Manager, Alicia Buffinton. Best of all? Rolling out a sustainable fitout to Green Star standards “doesn’t cost much extra,” Alicia said. (Watch the world’s most inspiring store launch video for an extra shot in the arm.)

7.      Green Star Homes makes waves

In the week that we launched the Green Star Homes Standard, we were buoyed by the market leaders seizing the sustainability agenda. One of the first movers is Development Victoria, which tested Green Star Homes at Melbourne’s Knoxfield. The incredibly inspiring Samantha Peart and Jessamy Smooker shared how Green Star Homes is helping Development Victoria to achieve its vision – which includes fossil fuel free and carbon neutral construction by 2025 – and deliver real-world results, including new minimum sustainability standards for all homes on its sites.

A later session explored the “confluence of conversations” driving sustainability in the residential sector, from updates to the Building Code to consumer appetite. Metricon’s National Product Development Manager David McKibbin observed that demand for sustainable homes would only grow “with the backing of a Green Star standard”. The standard is just one part of a multi-pronged approach to the residential sector, which includes a consumer awareness campaign, a KPMG study to unpack the costs and benefits, and 9 Life’s long-awaited Renovate or Rebuild.

Green Building Day’s stories and speakers were diverse, but their message was the same. We aren’t stepping back from sustainability. We are picking up the pace. And that should make you smile.