4 min readSince the Green Star rating was introduced in 2003, builders across Australia have been on a mission to implement sustainable building practices. Designed to reward viable outcomes and encourage people to move beyond the standard practices, the rating tool assesses holistic building operations across nine impact categories.
As a result, our country is reducing its carbon footprint, boosting sustainability and saving a load of money. But for owners, developers and consumers – the impact is so much greater.
As green building practices change from being a ‘nice to have’ to a global movement, it’s paramount more than ever to reduce the environmental impact of construction. Those that don’t jump on board will definitely feel the strain. From direct competitiveness in the industry, to owners and developers struggling to keep tenants in their properties, now is the time to strive for high Green Star ratings.
Green Star ratings
The Green Star performance rating tool provides a comprehensive look into building operations including management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions and innovation. It’s applicable to offices, schools, universities, shopping centres and industry facilities. It provides a third-party certification of the environmental achievements of the building in operation.
The value of these Green Star ratings, when you look at the big picture is irrefutable. Commercial businesses and properties that have a good Green Star performance rating tend to have lower vacancy rates. Tenants in these sustainable buildings are aware their bills will be significantly reduced in the long term.
A Green Star rating gives your project or property an independent verification you’ve met or exceeded best practice benchmarks across the environmental criteria. Owners and property developers that haven’t achieved a Green Star rating will begin to fall behind. As the market tightens, demand lowers and the competition to keep tenants in these properties will increase. Now more than ever it’s imperative to start thinking green.
The Green Star rating scale Image: GBCA
Conduct a waste audit
Getting a specialised corporate waste management company to conduct an audit can help give your building the green tick of approval. While energy efficiency and passive heating and cooling play a big part of Green Star ratings, 95 per cent of all Green Star rated buildings in Australia have obtained their stars using the waste and recycling reports under their accreditation criteria; making it one of the big ticket items for owners and developers to strongly consider.
Waste management practices that minimise the amount of construction and demolition waste from building works disposed to landfill is strongly encouraged. This can include anything from recycling more products to using a waste contractor or waste processing facility that complies with the Green Star ratings. By conducting a waste audit, property owners and developers can improve their disposal methods, recycling efficiency and sustainability.
Use recyclable materials & selected building products
It goes without saying then, that utilising as many recyclable materials will point you in the right direction for green building. By choosing salvaged materials like aggregate, recycled timber, sand and road base, you’ll be effectively reducing your carbon footprint.
Opt for green wood materials like bamboo and quality composite resources for a more sustainable and cost effective approach. These types of ‘green’ building products add an undeniable warmth to the property that generally can’t be found in non-salvaged materials.
Implement passive heating & cooling
Smart heating and cooling solutions come with a well-constructed passive design. Building orientation and room layout can be used to maximise the sun’s heat in primary areas during the colder months helping to keep costs to a minimum. Passive design for heating and cooling looks at reducing heat loss through double glazed windows, well-insulated walls, ceilings and suspended floors.
Opt for a narrow or open layout floor plan to encourage better air movement in the building. Reflective coatings on windows, exterior walls and roofs can help to minimise heat gain too. To implement passive heating and cooling, it’s vital to engage with a builder or expert with extensive experience in passive design.
When it comes to green building operations, energy efficiency is one of the first areas addressed. Green Star performance ratings focus on the property’s peak electricity demand and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy consumption. Building owners that have implemented strategies to measure and reduce the property’s energy use will be rewarded with higher ratings.
Green buildings that are energy efficient will help to save money on utility bills significantly. This in itself is very attractive to tenants and buyers, who are increasingly demanding Green Star rated building to ‘future proof’ their cost of living against increased utility costs.