Green Star successes in 2016 show sustainability trends in Australia, finds GBCA

by Brianna Crandall — February 3, 2017 — The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) recently announced that it has crunched the Green Star green building certification program numbers for 2016, which indicate the larger sustainability trends in Australia, and applauded several of its “green leaders.” The GBCA certified 401 Green Star projects in 2016, compared with 223 in 2015 — an 80 percent increase in certifications.

Romilly Madew, chief executive officer of the GBCA, says the acceleration in certifications is in part due to the rapid uptake of the Green Star – Performance rating tool, which assesses the operational performance of existing buildings. Madew commented:

The industry’s leaders all understand that achieving Green Star ratings for their portfolios demonstrates transparency and accountability to shareholders. For the investment community, sustainability is now inextricably linked with risk management, reputation and reward — and we are seeing an increase in Green Star ratings accordingly.

Certification leadership

Vicinity Centres rated a “whopping” 93 Green Star projects in 2016.  Madew said the company has made “a large-scale commitment to sustainability” by rating its entire portfolio with the Green Star – Performance rating tool, and that the company’s leaders now have a “clear benchmark” as they embark on an upgrade program, and have demonstrated to shareholders and customers that they are serious about sustainability.

Along with Vicinity Centres’ “outstanding commitment,” DEXUS Property Group certified 79 projects, SCA Property Group certified 56, Mirvac 41, and Frasers Property Australia 14.

Lendlease achieved the greatest number of Green Star certifications across all other rating tools, as the owner/developer of 10 projects and the project leader for an additional 10. During 2016 Lendlease led 25 Green Star projects to certification, and Madew said the company’s leadership in sustainability is acknowledged the world over; the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) ranked Lendlease third in the world in 2016.

Communities leadership

Stockland certified six master-planned communities in 2016, the greatest number of any company. Madew says “Stockland is leading the charge” in its commitment to sustainable communities: “Tens of thousands of Australian families will live in Stockland communities that were designed to be environmentally sustainable, and to be liveable, prosperous and resilient places.”

 Consultancy leadership

Arup Australasia worked on more Green Star certifications than any other consultancy in 2016, with a total of 11 for the year. The company says it will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in sustainable design.

Madew pointed out:

Arup has worked on an impressive 82 Green Star projects, and the highly experienced team has influenced the design and delivery of some of Australia’s most iconic green building projects. Arup’s legacy this year includes state-of-the-art education facilities at the University of Melbourne, the restoration of Sydney landmark Shell House, and community-scale projects around the country.

WSP l Parsons Brinckerhoff was also an active green leader in 2016, working on 14 newly-registered Green Star buildings, showing the depth of its influence “from industrial buildings for Frasers Property Australia to the expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and from Shellharbour Civic Centre to NAB’s office fitout in Brisbane,” according to Madew. The company has over 118 diverse Green Star-certified projects.

The state-by-state story

With 155 Green Star projects certified in 2016, New South Wales achieved the most certifications. This was followed by Victoria (97), Queensland (57), West Australia (44), South Australia (20), ACT (16), and Tasmania (12).

But Madew says the statistics do not tell the full story:

Aside from the large number of Green Star projects delivered by the industry across New South Wales, the Baird Government has joined the ACT, Victoria and South Australia with a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. NSW has backed this commitment with $500 million over five years to drive policy reform that delivers advanced energy technologies, energy efficiency and helps us prepare for a changing climate.

 Madew lists further state-by-state government initiatives in the announcement.  She concludes:

More than 636,000 Australians now work in Green Star-rated offices — that’s five per cent of our total workforce. A further 13,300 people live in Green Star-rated apartments. More than 130,000 people are moving into Green Star-rated communities, and 1.2 million people visit a Green Star-rated shopping center each day. Australia’s property sector continues to show the world how to build healthy, resilient and positive places for people and the natural environment.