WSP provided technical expertise in construction, engineering and sustainability to support the development of the GBCA’s Green Star Future Focus Program.
The Green Star Future Focus is a program dedicated to delivering the next generation of Green Star rating tools with a focus on a carbon positive future, and continuing the broader sustainable transformation of our built environment.
The new Green Star Performance v2 rating tool was released to industry in September 2022 which provides a framework to track and progressively improve a building’s operational performance towards net zero.
What is the Green Star Performance Rating tool?
Green Star Performance is a rating tool dedicated to assessing and verifying the level of sustainability at which a building is managed and operated at. It seeks to progressively enhance sustainability performance from average through to a carbon positive world leadership level of sustainability.
Throughout the process of developing this new tool, WSP supported the GBCA with a multi-disciplinary team of experts from all facets of the built environment, and offered guidance on climate change, nature, electrical vehicle planning, and deep carbon emission reductions. This enabled the GBCA to raise the bar on leadership and deliver the best sustainability outcomes for the property industry.
Sean Holmes, WSP’s Associate Director - Sustainability explains:
“We’ve assisted the GBCA once again in raising the bar for sustainability in the property industry. We’ve been careful to ensure that entry level projects are not left behind – this new tool delivers a clear framework that is suitable for those who are at the very beginning of their sustainability journey, as well as those who are looking to demonstrate world leadership. I’m very excited to see how the industry responds – with every tool I am blown away at the level of commitment from the industry leaders, and I hope I am yet again!”
A key focus of the next generation of Green Star rating tools is to facilitate a carbon positive future for the property industry – something that is more challenging when dealing with existing buildings rather than new buildings.
Sean adds, “This tool supports and drives the industry trend of electrifying buildings and powering them using renewables. It sets a clear trajectory for all existing buildings – you need to plan for electrification and renewables, or over time, you cannot be considered as a sustainable building. All organisations should be planning for this transition at the earliest opportunity available.”
Dayna Surlan, one of WSP’s Sustainability Consultants explains, “The tool also looks beyond carbon and promotes good practices across a range of areas including biodiversity conservation and regeneration. It also helps foster culturally inclusive places, promoting the recognition and engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and encourages good physical and mental health outcomes. Furthermore, it reiterates importance of creating not only environmentally sustainable places, but culturally and socially sustainable places for everyone to enjoy.”
Urban biodiversity and placemaking play a key role, as the revised tools work to facilitate the densification of our cities in a sustainable fashion, while decarbonisation of buildings is paramount to demonstrating industry leadership.
How can this help propel buildings on the trajectory to Net Zero?
Sean notes, “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.”
Dayna adds, “We work with many building developers and owners who use the Green Star tools to guide their sustainability practices. Having the tool updated to include a Net Zero pathway is a great step for the GBCA and provides the property industry with a clear and practical roadmap to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050.”
WSP also played a key part in planning a Net Zero energy future for the City of Sydney, which has set a benchmark for how the property industry can decarbonise by leveraging updated performance standards for commercial buildings.
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, now and in the future.
The Green Performance v2 tool is focused on raising carbon positive outcomes, rather than delivering an improvement on minimum code compliance. This is also reflected in the shift of the 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.
Creating Great Places, for Life
“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,” concludes Sean.
“We are beginning to see the impact of these interim targets set by governments, with code compliance being lifted, and agency ambitions being raised.
“It’s now become a matter of necessity that asset management plans for existing 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.
“All businesses should engage at an organisational level to manage and mitigate environmental, social and governance risks. Adopting the Green Star Performance certification provides a framework for businesses to communicate the pathway in achieving these goals at an asset level.
“Ultimately, it brings confidence to a range of stakeholders that we are all working to create sustainable healthy places for generations to come.”