Sustainability at scale and speed

27 Oct 2021

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

All eyes are on Glasgow in the countdown to COP26. Australia has now weighed in with its own net zero targets and in just a few days representatives from 197 countries will gather to negotiate a new deal as the world races towards net zero emissions.

Many of the pledges made back in 2016 as part of the Paris Agreement have proved inadequate to the task of halting runaway climate change. 

I’m sure no one reading this needs a reminder of the findings of the sixth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in August. The headline figure is hard to forget. We are on a trajectory to exceed 1.5°C warming within two decades. This means decarbonisation by 2050 will be too late. 

In response to the IPCC’s report, GBCA has strengthened our government advocacy around COP26. We have established new partnerships to tackle embodied carbon and electrification. We have expanded our collaboration with signatories to WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. We've refocused our training resources and research agenda. And we have tightened the targets outlined in our Climate Positive Roadmap for Precincts discussion paper.

We know we are on the right track, because we are following the same pathway to net zero as the IPCC and the International Energy Agency's Net Zero by 2050 global roadmap. But with so much at stake, the Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26 is an inflection point that we hope will turn inaction into action.

Through our strong relationships with the World Green Building Council (our former chair Tanya Cox is currently WorldGBC chair, for example), we are participating in the UK Green Building Council’s virtual pavilion, Build Better Now. The pavilion has already captured the international media’s attention as an innovative showcase of sustainable solutions, as the immersive virtual reality experience will allow anyone to take a tour, listen to a talk and join the discussion. One of the buildings featured is the Monash Woodside Building for Technology and Design in Melbourne.

The buildings on display are impressive, but we need more of them. In this issue of Green Building Voice, we profile the work of Parag Shinde and his team at Property NSW, which recently achieved a 5 Star Green Star Performance portfolio rating for 22 properties. It’s an outstanding result that confirms significant energy and emissions savings can be realised with cost-effective technology, remote teams and small budgets.

Property NSW is a story of how sustainability can be scaled across one portfolio. The GRESB results, also launched last week, tell another story of sustainability at scale. This year GRESB assessed US$5.7 trillion of assets under management and 117,000 individual assets, up from US$4.8 trillion in 2020. Oceania – Australia and New Zealand – was the front runner for the eleventh consecutive year. A big shout out to the many GBCA members who work with GRESB each year, and especially those recognised for sector, regional and global leadership.

Another success story that will help us scale our efforts is found in the Closing the Gap report, which we launched this week. The report reveals that 88.1% of Green Star-rated buildings achieve their modelled NABERS Energy rating or are within 0.5 stars. A similar exercise undertaken in 2012 found 69% of Green Star buildings met their target NABERS rating.

I hope I can continue to share  good news in next month’s Green Building Voice, following the climate talks at COP26. But regardless of the outcome, GBCA will continue to drive the climate conversation in the decade of decarbonisation.