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Can Queensland be a stronger, more sustainable state?

As Queenslanders head to the polls, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has called on all political parties to outline their vision for a stronger, more sustainable state.

According to the GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, Queensland currently boasts 167 Green Star-rated buildings – from city skyscrapers to suburban schools, regional shopping centres to rural hospitals – as well as the first Green Star-rated retail, industrial and education facilities in the country. 

“While Queensland was once a leader in sustainable development, government support for green building has waned in recent years,” Ms Madew says.

“Meeting the challenges of a growing population, shifting demographics, cost-of-living pressures and a changing climate demands leadership – and it demands an unwavering commitment to long-term, sustainable thinking.

“The upcoming election is an opportunity for all political parties to recalibrate their policies and to renew their commitment to sustainable, productive and cost-effective buildings and communities. 

“We commend the Queensland Government for its commitment to strengthening the Queensland construction industry through the ConstructionQ initiative, which identified the importance of ensuring Queensland’s built environment ‘stands the test of time’, but a clear plan with measurable targets will be needed to achieve this.

“The Green Building Council of Australia’s advocacy agenda outlines three clear, government-led initiatives that can strengthen Queensland’s property and construction industry and improve the efficiency, productivity and long-term sustainability of our buildings, communities and cities.”

Certify new and existing buildings using Green Star

Government leadership encourages the market to meet higher benchmarks for better buildings.  The GBCA encourages all parties to outline policies and commitments to achieve Green Star ratings for buildings owned, occupied or developed, and to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent on efficient, healthy and productive projects.

A 2014 study of Queensland residents conducted by the Online Research Unit on behalf of the GBCA found
86 per cent of those surveyed think it is important for government office buildings to be green.

Green Star – Performance ratings should be achieved on a range of government buildings to benchmark operational performance and identify opportunities for incremental improvements and cost savings.

The next Queensland Government must commit to Green Star certification for major and iconic government building and development projects, including office accommodation, healthcare facilities and schools – and to ensure that the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games infrastructure leaves a lasting legacy for the Queensland community.

Encourage industry to move beyond standard practice

When elected, the Newman Government dismantled the ‘Green Door Policy’ – and the state has been without appropriate policies to encourage more sustainable development since 2012. 

Financial and non-financial incentives – from training and capacity building and awareness raising through to environmental upgrade agreements – can help Queensland building owners and industry to accelerate upgrades of existing buildings.

Create better communities across Queensland

Green Star – Communities was launched in 2012, with the support and sponsorship of Queensland’s former Urban Land Development Authority.  The GBCA urges all political parties to make an ongoing commitment to Green Star – Communities by referencing the rating tool and national framework in policies and planning strategies. 

Achieving Green Star – Communities certification for government-controlled projects will ensure all new community-scale developments across Queensland are productive, sustainable, liveable, affordable, resilient places to live.

“As Queensland has some of the fastest growing regions in Australia, there has never been a better time to get this right,” Ms Madew says.

“Reinvigorating its commitment to sustainability can help the next Queensland Government realise a range of economic, social and environmental benefits – from reduced costs to improved productivity, health and wellbeing – and ensure a more efficient, productive, sustainable future for all,” Ms Madew concludes.