A story of two thousand Green Star ratings

This week our industry passed a momentous milestone: 2,000 Green Star certifications.

The story of 2,000 Green Star ratings starts with a single step. And for me, that was when I stepped into 8 Brindabella Circuit in Canberra for the official opening of Australia’s first Green Star building in 2004.

Stephen Byron and his team at the Canberra Airport had created a workplace that pushed the boundaries of best practice. Reflecting on the green features that many of us hadn’t seen in a commercial office before – the recycled concrete, steel and timber, the low VOC paint, double glazed windows and water-efficient taps – I’m reminded of how far we’ve come. All these features are business-as-usual today.

At just three storeys, 8 Brindabella Circuit was something of a prototype for the future green office. But it was chic, contemporary and flooded with light – and for the first time we had a showcase of what sustainable building in Australia looked like.

Bookended with 8 Brindabella Circuit is 105 Phillip Street in Parramatta, which helped us hit our 2,000 Green Star ratings target this week. While 105 Phillip Street is just one project of 2,000 it is emblematic of our industry’s approach to sustainable building today.

Initially targeting a 5 Star rating, the project team challenged conventional thinking to achieve 10 Green Star Innovation points and elevate the project to 6 Star status. The result? Charter Hall and Dexus' asset is 60 per cent more energy efficient than standard practice. Designed by Bates Smart, constructed by Built, and developed and managed by Dexus, it is also the first and only 6 Star Green Star building in Parramatta. It is a collaborative hub that melds high performance office space for 1,800 NSW Department of Education employees with 21st century learning spaces for Western Sydney University.

But this story isn’t just about one building, one portfolio or even one city. It’s about 2,000 Green Star projects across Australia that equate to 32 million square metres of building space – that’s more than the entire Sydney CBD.

A massive 37 per cent of Australia’s office space is Green Star certified and six per cent of the nation’s workforce head to a Green Star office each day.

More than 48,000 people live in Green Star apartments and 550,000 people are moving into Green Star communities. And 1.3 million people visit a Green Star-rated shopping centre each day.

Looking at all the new buildings certified under the Green Star rating system since 2003, together we’ve saved 3.8 billion kilograms of carbon. That’s 840 million kilograms of carbon cut from our atmosphere each year. This figure is eyewatering, and only really makes sense in context. Together, we’ve removed the equivalent of 261,000 cars from our roads every year or eliminated the equivalent of 46,700 households’ emissions.

Each day, Green Star challenges our industry to do better and to go further, to test bold ideas and take established thinking to a new level. And this is why, today, the average 6 Star Green Star building has a carbon footprint 69 per cent smaller than a standard practice building.

Of course, we can't afford to rest on our laurels, which is why we have our eyes firmly fixed on the Green Star Future Focus project and a vision of world leadership for 2025.

We will continue to elevate Green Star benchmarks to meet Paris Agreement targets, as well as other ecology, biodiversity, transport and health imperatives. A 6 Star rating will become shorthand for net zero. And Green Star’s scope will expand to include resilience, social sustainability and human rights issues.

Green Star will continue to adapt and evolve. But every now and then it’s important to down tools and look back at what we’ve achieved.

So, to everyone in our industry who has fought for finance or convinced the board to be bolder, challenged the status quo in a design charrette or rethought your building’s operations, sold the sustainability story to your shareholders or worked with your customers to create a better building, we salute you.