The benefits beyond the Green Star

In the following guest post, Orjan Lundberg, Executive Director of Green Buildings Certification shares how the benefits of the Green Star go far beyond the certification itself.

The Value of Green Star: A decade of environmental benefits analyses data from 428 Green Star-certified projects occupying 5,746,000 million square metres across Australia and compares it to the ‘average’ Australian building and minimum practice benchmarks.

Just a few key findings include:

  • Energy: Green Star-rated buildings have reduced electricity consumption by 580,000 megawatts per year – equivalent to 76,000 average households’ annual electricity use.
  • Emissions: On average, Green Star-certified buildings produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 66% less electricity than average Australian buildings.
  • Water: Green Star buildings use 51% less potable water than average buildings. That saving – 3,300,000 kilolitres of potable water a year – is enough to service 18,000 households or fill 1,320 Olympic swimming pools.
  • Waste: The average new construction project has a 58% recycling rate. In comparison, Green Star - As Built certified buildings are recycling 96% of their construction demolition waste. In total, 37,600 truckloads of construction and demolition waste have been diverted from landfill due to good waste management practices.

Our research also finds that the higher the Green Star rating, the greater the environmental savings across the four key areas.

This report confirms what we’ve been saying for a decade: Green Star buildings are slashing greenhouse gas emissions, making significant savings on energy and water consumption and costs, and preventing truckloads of waste to landfill.

The many other benefits of Green Star buildings are just as clear. At ANZ’s headquarters in Melbourne – the largest Green Star fitout in the country – annual cost savings amount to $200,000 a year. Absenteeism has fallen by 42 per cent since Fujitsu moved its staff into Green Star-rated headquarters in Melbourne. Perceived productivity has shot up by 15 per cent for some groups of staff at Macquarie Bank’s 6 Star Green Star One Shelley Street in Sydney. It’s no wonder that Colliers International’s Office Tenant Survey finds green office space is now among the top four attributes sought by staff, alongside bike racks, child care and a gym.

As Leighton Properties Managing Director Mark Gray told The Age in June, “tenants of all sizes are driving in their leasing contracts for sustainable properties. They all expect at least 5 Star Green Star ratings and quality staff amenities.”

Green Star ratings are good news for tenants when they are looking to move. But what if you don’t want the expense of moving? How do you capture the benefits of a Green Star rating while operating from an existing building?

Buildings don’t need to be new to be green; existing buildings have many opportunities to improve the way in which they operate. The Green Building Council of Australia is just months away from releasing the Green Star – Performance rating tool which will assess the operational performance of buildings.

The rating tool will assess buildings against the nine Green Star categories of Management, Energy, Emissions, Indoor Environment Quality, Water, Transport, Materials, Land Use and Ecology, and Innovation. A Green Star – Performance rating will be awarded, ranging from 1 Star Green Star, representing ‘Minimum Practice’, through to 6 Star Green Star, representing ‘World Leadership’ in sustainable building operations.

A Green Star – Performance rating will help tenants to make informed decisions about the total occupancy costs and the quality of their workplace environments. Just as Green Star ratings for new buildings have helped companies to reduce operating costs, attract and retain staff, boost their brand equity and demonstrate a commitment to corporate social responsibility, so too a Green Star – Performance rating will provide the third party tick of approval that a building is comfortable, efficient, productive and healthy.

Guest blogger in focus: Orjan Lundberg is responsible for the delivery of the Green Star program, Australia's leading sustainable building program and is also a member of the Green Building Council Australia's executive management team.

Connect with the GBCA on Twitter: @gbcaus

 

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