By David Clark

The new AU Green Star Buildings rating tool launched in October 2020 is a step change in ambition for the property industry. It has had a complete overhaul to reflect the challenges facing Australia over the next 20 years including climate change, biodiversity loss, health and wellbeing and the need for a more circular economy.

The credits, categories and scoring have all changed. The tool is more outcomes focussed and has ten minimum requirements that all projects must achieve if they want certification. Two of the biggest changes in the tool relate to zero carbon and engaging with the material and product supply chain.

Zero Carbon is now mandatory for 6 star buildings, and by 2026 even 4 star buildings will have to be zero carbon. This means reducing energy consumption, reducing embodied carbon, eliminating fossil fuels such as natural gas through electrification, generating and/or procuring renewable electricity and offsetting other emissions. Many building owners have already committed to zero carbon – green star now provides a clear definition of what that looks like for new buildings. The federal government will eventually catch up.

To reduce embodied carbon and to support a circular economy approach Green Star has a new approach to responsible procurement. Suppliers and products with demonstrable sustainability credentials, such as third party environmental and social certifications, will be recognised. This encourages the supply chain for structural materials, facades, finishes and building services to offer more sustainable products, benefitting all projects not just those using the tool.

Green Star Buildings sets a new standard for sustainable buildings for the next decade. It is all achievable with the technologies and skills available today while also encouraging innovation and new approaches. I’m looking forward to everyone in our industry embracing the new opportunities.

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