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High performance buildings deliver high returns

Times may be tough, but there is no sign that sustainability is disappearing from the property and construction industry’s agenda in Queensland, says the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

“We know the Queensland property and construction sector is experiencing challenging times, and another cost-of-living budget is causing a tightening of belt buckles. However industry is demonstrating that Green Star-rated buildings make smart economic sense,” says the GBCA’s Chief Operating Officer, Robin Mellon.

“Despite a changing political environment and fluctuating commitment to environmental issues from some governments over the past few years – both in Queensland and across Australia – Green Star certifications continue to climb as industry sees the benefits in future-proofing assets against rising utility prices, the effects of a changing climate and challenging economic circumstances.

“Thirty per cent of Brisbane’s CBD office space is Green Star-certified, compared with the national average of 20 per cent. Of the 582 Green Star projects around Australia, 126 are in Queensland – from city skyscrapers to suburban schools, regional shopping centres and rural hospitals.  Queensland can also boast a range of ‘firsts’ – including the first Green Star retail, industrial and education facilities in the country,” Mr Mellon explains.

Examples of efficient, healthy, productive, resilient and sustainable buildings in Queensland include:

  • Green Square North Tower, with leading-edge energy-efficiency features which one tenant says has reduced energy bills from $12,000 to $8,000 a month, despite doubling the size of their floor space.
  • Bay View State School, which has reported a 100 per cent parent satisfaction rate and attendance three per cent higher than the regional average.
  • Peregian Springs State School, which had recorded the highest ever enrolment in Queensland before it had even opened its doors.
  • Orion Springfield Town Centre, which was designed to use approximately half the energy of a similar-sized shopping centre and which uses around 60 per cent less water.
  • Sherwood Road and Eagle Farm bus depots, which demonstrate high-performance industrial facilities can be comfortable, cost-effective, productive and environmentally sustainable.
  • Bond University Mirvac School of Sustainable Development, which has attracted more international students and developed new research partnerships as a result of its Green Star rating and commitment to leadership.

“High-quality, high-performing buildings are just as much about higher returns, increased productivity and future-proofing as they are about environmental sustainability.

“We have up-to-date, solid research which shows that Green Star-rated buildings emit around a third of the greenhouse gas emissions and use a third of the electricity when compared with the average Australian building.  Green Star-rated buildings also use half the water of average buildings, and send a fraction of the waste to landfill.

“We also know that Green Star-rated buildings are better performing assets.  The Building Better Returns report has found that Green Star buildings deliver a 12 per cent ‘green premium’ in value and a five per cent premium in rent, when compared to non-rated buildings. 

“Committing to more sustainable buildings is not about ‘green tape’.  It is about boosting the economy, increasing green skills and jobs and making healthier, more productive and more efficient places to live, work and learn. Rather than support ‘development at any cost’, the GBCA would like to see Queensland adopt policies that encourage and promote efficient and sustainable development.

“The Queensland Government has shown that it understands the many benefits of a sustainable built environment and its tenancy of the Green Star-registered 1 William Street development in Brisbane, for example, will lead to healthier, more productive staff, lower operational costs and will demonstrate its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and resource use.

“We look forward to seeing more policies and actions that recognise how environmentally and occupant-friendly buildings can deliver significant benefits to the economy – as well as the bottom line.  And we look forward to the Queensland Government recommitting to Green Star as the independent method of measurement for best practice,” Mr Mellon concludes.