Great opportunities for more efficient buildings in the Northern Territory
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has called on the Northern Territory’s political leaders to strengthen their commitment to more efficient, productive, resource-friendly and sustainable buildings and communities.
With the people of the Northern Territory heading to the polls on Saturday 25 August, Australia's leading green building organisation has assessed the NT against five green building priorities.
“While the Northern Territory government and opposition have both voiced their commitment to sustainability, the Territory risks being left behind if it does not implement polices and programs which support sustainable buildings and communities,” says the GBCA’s Executive Director of Advocacy, Robin Mellon.
Priority 1: Provide visionary government leadership
One of the most influential ways for the incoming government to demonstrate its green leadership is to commit to achieving Green Star ratings for buildings it owns, occupies or develops, whether offices, schools, hospitals or public buildings. This demonstrates both financial responsibility and long-term thinking.
“The Victorian and Queensland governments have both mandated minimum Green Star standards for their office accommodation, but the Northern Territory is yet to make such a commitment,” Robin Mellon says.
Priority 2: Retrofit and improve existing buildings
Greening the vast amount of existing building stock in Australia is an enormous challenge. State governments are introducing a range of policy incentives to improve existing buildings' energy efficiency, reduce water use, widen the range of green building materials used and reduce construction and demolition waste.
"We would like to see all sides of politics recognise the long-term value embedded in the built environment, and to unlock the opportunities that exist for improved health, productivity and job creation. As a first step, we encourage the government to undertake a complete audit of its own existing buildings, to identify levels of energy and water efficiency and opportunities for incremental improvement,” Mr Mellon says.
Priority 3: Green education and healthcare facilities
Every pupil has a right to fresh air, daylight and good indoor environment quality within a building that reflects long-term sustainability goals and financial responsibility. Similarly, patients and staff across Australia have a right to healthy and productive healthcare environments.
"We now have more than 50 Green Star-rated schools and education facilities around Australia – but not one of them is in the Northern Territory. This presents a real opportunity for NT to capitalise on the benefits of green schools and healthcare facilities, and learning outcomes from across the country. In the past few years, we have seen Tasmania promise that all new building works undertaken for schools, hospitals and community health centres will meet 5 Star Green Star benchmarks. The Queensland and ACT Governments have achieved Green Star ratings for a number of education projects.
“Similarly, South Australia has committed to achieving Green Star benchmarks for major projects, such as the New Royal Adelaide Hospital, following the success of the 5 Star Green Star-certified Flinders Medical Centre’s New South Wing. We call on NT’s politicians to commit to greener schools and healthcare facilities. The people of NT have a right to more healthy and productive school and hospital buildings."
Priority 4: Move beyond buildings to communities and cities
The GBCA has recently launched the Green Star - Communities rating tool to provide best practice benchmarks for delivering adaptable, liveable, prosperous and sustainable cities, communities and precincts. “We applaud the NT’s Land Development Corporation for sponsoring the development of the Green Star – Communities rating tool, and the NT Government for demonstrating green leadership in this area,” Mr Mellon says.
“We look forward to working with NT communities, such as the City of Weddell, City of Palmerston and City of Darwin, to achieve Green Star – Communities ratings which will help create more affordable, liveable and sustainable cities in the NT region.”
Priority 5: Embed green skills across all industry training
The demand for 'green collar workers' across the economy continues to grow. To capitalise on these job opportunities, the people of NT must have the necessary skills. “In much the same way that OH&S has become an integrated part of industry training, green skills must be embedded into the NT curriculum to ensure we develop better, safer, greener buildings and provide people with job opportunities and skills in a low-carbon economy,” Mr Mellon explains.
"How will the Top End become more environmentally and economically sustainable? We look forward to hearing both Chief Minister Henderson and Leader of the Opposition Terry Mills outline commitments to a better built environment between now and the election on 25 August," Mr Mellon concludes.
Green Building Council of Australia
Phone: 0412 179 135
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