Wednesday, 20 September 2017 Sydney
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Green growth in Australia and India::

Sustainability: Why Australia is committed to environmentally sustainable investment locally and internationally

The challenges our planet faces – particularly climate change and sustainable economic development - are global in nature and so require global solutions.

The building sector, which consumes as much as 40 per cent of the world’s energy, 12 per cent of its water and contributes 40 per cent of the waste sent to landfill, is a major part of this global problem. However, the building sector can be an even bigger part of the solution. Eco construction projects are good for the planet and make sound financial sense. They also offer new commerce opportunities for investors between Australia and India.

"The building sector, which consumes as much as 40 per cent of the world’s energy, 12 per cent of its water and contributes 40 per cent of the waste sent to landfill, is a major part of this global problem."

Greening Australia

In Australia, the property industry recognised the need for urgent action in 2002, and established the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) to develop a sustainable property industry and drive the adoption of green building practices.

Since then, the GBCA’s membership has grown to more than 815 organizations from a broad cross section of industry and government.

We launched the Green Star environmental rating tools for buildings in 2003, which has resulted in more than 170 projects around Australia receiving certification for their green attributes. A further 300 plus projects are registered for certification and, indeed, 11 per cent of commercial buildings in Australian city centres are now Green Star certified. There are also now real investment opportunities beyond commercial buildings, with Green Star rating tools now available for healthcare facilities, schools and universities, industrial facilities, retail centres and multi-unit residential dwellings.

The GBCA is now broadening its focus to examine how we build and support sustainable communities, and is in the process of developing a framework to inform consumers about achievable and desirable levels of sustainability, and to raise industry standards and deliver best practice against measurable benchmarks. With a number of new precincts being developed over the next few years, we see real opportunities for sustainable design, products and services across the Australian economy.

Global collaboration

Beyond Australia’s borders, the GBCA believes we have a collective responsibility to work together to achieve change around the globe. We are currently collaborating with the World Green Building Council to forge stronger links within the Asia-Pacific and promote the benefits of green building practices in the region. Our new Asia-Pacific Committee has been established to develop a program of education, product, technology and corporate opportunities with interested Asian companies – many of whom are in India - to provide new markets both in Asia and Australia.

The Asia-Pacific Committee will also focus on relationship building and mutual understanding with our Indian counterparts. We have already exchanged missions and information with India, and are working together to undertake demonstration projects, to offer training and staff exchanges and to support the development of regulatory frameworks.

Future challenge and creating jobs

In Australia, we’ve recognised that our next challenge is to retrofit the nation’s 21 million square metres of existing office stock, as 81 per cent is more than ten years of age. A 10-year retrofit program would reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 1.4 million tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road. Greening our existing office buildings will provide more value than the immediate impact on the environment. We will create jobs growth without needing to create additional office stock - future proofing our existing buildings, ensuring they perform closer to new standards and addressing the growing tenant demand for green buildings.

Fast Fact:

A report released early in 2009 by research firm Davis Langdon found that refurbishing a significant quantity of office stock across Australia would create jobs for more than 10,000 people in the construction industry – which translates into almost 27,000 new jobs across the broader economy.

Australia is proudly leading the region in green building, and we will continue to work closely with our partners in the Asia-Pacific region to share green ideas, technologies and techniques – and work together to develop a globally sustainable property industry.

Top green building

At the leading edge of Australia’s green building movement are developments such as The Gauge in Melbourne.

. The Gauge recently became the first building in Australia to receive a 6 Star Green Star – Office As Built v2 certified rating, and is now the yardstick for the Australian property industry to measure its environmental sustainability in new commercial developments.

. Sustainability initiatives at The Gauge include a black water treatment plant which recycles 92 per cent of water each year, as well as a gas fired co-generation system which provides base building electricity and uses waste heat for pre-heating domestic hot water and air supply in winter months.

. At The Gauge, a carbon dioxide monitoring system and ‘single pass’ air conditioning provide 100 per cent fresh air supply to all occupants, while glare control, optimisation of artificial lighting levels and individual task lighting controlled by workers are reducing headaches and fatigue.

. In Australia, properties such as The Gauge are demonstrating that the highest level of environmental performance – coupled with an emphasis on occupant health and comfort - can become the ‘norm’.

 

Romilly Madew,
Chief Executive,
Green Building Council of Australia