How The Star has ramped up its sustainability commitments

"Green Star has not only given us the guide to sustainability but has pushed us to commit sustainable practices across all our properties and helped our goal towards ‘a bright future’, something of which we are extremely proud."

AMANDA VISSER

Group Manager Sustainability, The Star

In this case study, we explore how The Star, one of Australia's largest entertainment businesses, has managed to ramp up its sustainability efforts through Green Star. Here we present a Q&A with The Star's Group Manager Sustainability, Amanda Visser, on the journey so far.

Why did the The Star choose to use Green Star to guide its sustainability journey as opposed to other rating tools in the market?

Since the demerger of The Star Entertainment Group, formerly known as Echo Entertainment, from its parent company in 2011, we have made significant investments to transform our properties across Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane into world class tourism and entertainment destinations.

To assist in developing sustainable assets into the future The Star adopted Green Star as Australia’s leading green building rating tool which also aligned with commitments within the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane developments for 5 and 6 Star Communities and Design and As Built, Performance ratings and best practice refurbishments of heritage buildings.

The Star’s vision of becoming Australia’s leading integrated resort company includes ensuring our current portfolio and future developments have positive impacts on the communities and cities in which we operate.

As such, it was crucial to embed a recognised ratings requirement into our Group Strategy and to emanate these requirements through to our Sustainable Design and Operational Standards for our development teams.

The Star determined that Green Star best fit these requirements and was a trusted national, and international sustainability rating. Key to the business was Green Star’s Financial Transparency Report which assisted us in understanding the investment and capital cost versus the expected return.

How has it made this journey easier in achieving its sustainability goals?

At The Star, our buildings are used for a range of purposes – including accommodation, dining, entertainment and office space and in 24 hour operation – in contrast to regular commercial buildings. As such, we are constantly evolving our design and build standards.

The requirements are mapped out on our Sustainable Design and Operational Standards, which clearly communicate our targets for carbon and water – to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in intensity by financial year 2023.

The standards also present mandatory and voluntary requirements for a range of material categories which include energy, water, materials, general management, biodiversity, supply chain and climate change mitigation and adaptation and align to the Green Star framework and NABERS protocol.  Our ambition was to go beyond these recommendations to help us deliver our cost and operational benefits without compromising on guest experience.

By utilising the Green Star framework, The Star has adapted these tools to ensure we can target appropriate credits across our properties, achieve these goals, and set future objectives.

What are some of the biggest challenges its faced along the way?

A growing portfolio means a potential increase in absolute carbon emissions, energy, water and waste production.

The more visitors we have, the more impact it will have on our resource use.

As a business that is in continuous operation also means our intensity is higher than other commercial buildings. We appreciate the need to evolve and consistently improve; we are developing our resorts rapidly, but we need to ensure we reduce our carbon emissions in line with our growth.

As our emissions profile increases with the expansion of assets, we aim to reduce our carbon emissions per square metre. One way is through our Energy and Water Project Pipeline, and the other is through technology.

Another challenge for The Star is informing our guests of our sustainability performance and activities. Each year, we welcome around 22 million visitors across our properties it can be challenging to inform and educate them due to limited touch points during their stay. We can use the Green Star signage and branding on our collateral to demonstrate our commitments,

However, we have the advantage of a company leadership team that is very supportive and engaged with all aspects of our sustainability strategy. The Star’s sustainability journey, which commenced only six years ago – in 2013 - has been growing in momentum and we have lifted our standards year on year.

Although we have a long way to go, we aim to support sustainability performance in all the cities that we operate in. 

What about the opportunities?

The key opportunities for us lie within the buildings and world class properties we are creating in our cities and how they interface and connect with our communities.

Taking an active part in the local identity of our cities and allowing people to experience and immerse themselves in its transformation, that is sustainably built and operated, is a goal we are working towards.

Further, building integrated resorts with excellent support facilities that are sustainably-driven makes us an attractive employer for the teams and talent we wish to attract. We see and understand the advantages of having sustainable design from a guest engagement and team member perspective as well as making good business sense.

The Star focuses on a range of issues from energy and carbon management, waste and recycling through to social sustainability issues and managing our ESG, risks and opportunities.

On environmental sustainability, one of our primary areas of focus is our energy and water project pipeline, which began in 2015 following a series of portfolio wide Level 2 energy audits.

Each year, we quantify the number of projects completed, determine the resource and cost savings achieved and map them against the business-as-usual model. These projects range from lighting replacements to full infrastructure project upgrades, which include recycled water and reverse osmosis plants to building analytics and fault detection systems to reduce operational energy use.

We are now in Year 5 of the pipeline and have completed 37 projects, which equate to over two million dollars saved in energy costs.

What key sustainability features are you most proud of?

When The Star first embarked on its sustainability journey, we only had one Green Star commitment - with Queen’s Wharf Brisbane.  We then created our Sustainability Strategy ‘Our Bright Future’ where we embedded Green Star ratings and requirements under our ‘World Class Properties’ pillar.

Now, we have delivered a certified 5 Star Green Star Interiors rating, a Green Star Performance Rating for The Star Sydney and a further two 5 Star Design and As Built commitments in the Gold Coast and Sydney in partnership with our Hong Kong-based partners.

Through the implementation of our sustainability strategy, the Group achieved the ‘Global Leadership’ position of the 'Casinos and Gaming Industry' in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Assessment for the first time in 2016 and has maintained the position for three consecutive years.

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to work with the business to achieve these goals and continue to look forward towards the creation of further sustainable integrated resorts.

How do you see the value of Green Star?

As newcomers to the Green Star suite of rating tools, we have been able to use the framework to give us the confidence that our buildings are sustainable and resilient buildings and our designs will deliver the operational performance and cost reductions we expect. Green Star has not only given us the guide to sustainability but has pushed us to commit sustainable practices across all our properties and helped our goal towards ‘a bright future’, something of which we are extremely proud.