Helping the GBCA to Create a more Resilient Built Environment that's Future Ready

For the past year, our team worked with the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), in an exclusive technical partnership, to help with developing its next generation of Green Star rating tools, which is slated for a phased release beginning early October.

Throughout the process, WSP has supported the GBCA with a multidisciplinary team of experts from all facets of the built environment, with guidance on climate change, environmental impact, transport planning, electrical vehicle planning, and technological and digital considerations, enabling the GBCA to raise the bar on leadership and deliver the best sustainability outcomes for the property industry.

 

Sean Holmes, WSP’s Regional Sustainability Lead explains, “We’ve assessed and reviewed the existing tools that were developed in 2014, with consideration for significant changes that have occurred – namely the 2015 Paris Agreement. This has enabled us to ensure that the revised tools will be future ready and responsive to the global megatrends we’re facing, such as climate and demographic changes and technological innovations, and which can continue to do so for years to come.”

 

A key focus of the next generation of Green Star rating tools will be to facilitate a carbon positive future for the property industry, which can deliver net positive outcomes across the triple bottom line – the social, environmental and economic aspects.

 

Sean explains, “An example of this is the new resilience category, that will reward projects if they can demonstrate the resilience of a development and its supporting infrastructure, and this now goes beyond climate change to recognise other forms of chronic stresses and shocks.”

 

The role of urban biodiversity and placemaking will play a key role, as the revised tools work to facilitate the densification of our cities in a sustainable fashion, while decarbonisation of buildings will also be paramount in demonstrating industry leadership.

 

Sean says, “Achieving a 6 Star Green Star rating will now require the operation of buildings to become electrified and powered 100 per cent by renewables. The timely release of these new tools is reflective of the broader changes that we’re seeing across the industry; the benchmark has now been set to deliver carbon positive outcomes, and it’s really promising to see this future ready shift in focus.”

 

This transition is now challenging the property industry to move beyond solutions that focused on mitigating the carbon footprint added by a new building, to now demonstrate leadership through future ready solutions that can achieve carbon positive outcomes, whether immediately or in the short-term future.

 

Through this tool, there will be more focus on carbon positive outcomes, rather than an improvement on minimum code compliance. This is also reflected in the shift of language to carbon positive, which is where the science is showing us that we need to be, rather than using minimum code compliance as a benchmark for improvement.

 

“We know that all state and territory governments have introduced net zero targets, either before or by 2050, and this is well within the lifecycle of new buildings being developed,” adds Sean.

 

“It’s now become a matter of necessity that business cases for new buildings include a transition strategy, which can ensure the sustainability across a building’s lifecycle, by considering the technical and spatial elements for designing an all-electric building – otherwise the risk is that these become stranded assets in the future.