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NSW urged to seize the sustainability agenda

As New South Wales heads to the polls, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has called on all political parties to ‘seize the sustainability agenda’ and outline the policies that will deliver liveable, sustainable and resilient buildings and communities for the people of NSW.

According to the GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, NSW currently boasts 197 Green Star-rated buildings – from commercial skyscrapers to suburban shopping centres, and from university facilities to public housing development.

“NSW is second only to Victoria in terms of Green Star ratings achieved, and has the opportunity to be number one with the right policies and visionary government leadership,” Ms Madew says.

“But not one of the 197 Green Star-certified buildings in NSW is a state government building.  The Victorian Government has rated a range of building types, from offices and farmers markets, through to conference centres and railway stations.  The South Australian Government is rating its hospitals and community-scale developments, and the ACT Government is focused on schools and new communities. 

“We call on all parties to look to the leadership being shown in other states and commit to sustainable, productive and cost-effective buildings and communities,” Ms Madew says.

The GBCA’s advocacy agenda outlines three clear, government-led initiatives that can strengthen NSW’s property and construction industry and improve the efficiency, productivity and long-term sustainability of our buildings, communities and cities.  These are:

Certify new and existing buildings using Green Star

Government leadership encourages the market to meet higher benchmarks for better buildings.  The GBCA calls on all parties to commit to achieving Green Star certification for government-owned, occupied and operated buildings. 

“A 2014 study of NSW residents conducted by the Online Research Unit on behalf of the GBCA found more than three quarters (77%) of those surveyed think it is important for government office buildings to be green.  Eighty four per cent of people believe it is important for schools and hospitals to be green.

“Nearly one third of NSW’s population is represented by the GBCA through their local governments, who are GBCA members because they see the value in more efficient buildings, productive precincts and healthier communities.

“Given that the NSW Government currently spends more than $500 million on energy, water and waste, a more sustainable approach to building assets would ensure that taxpayers’ money is well spent,” Ms Madew says.

Encourage industry to move beyond standard practice

Financial and non-financial incentives – from training, capacity building and awareness-raising through to environmental upgrade agreements – can help NSW building owners and the broader industry to move beyond standard practice and accelerate upgrades of existing buildings.

The GBCA calls on the incoming government to encourage the uptake of rating tools such as Green Star – Performance and NABERS Energy and NABERS Water as a way to benchmark and identify opportunities for incremental improvement.

“Lead by example and commit to trialling Green Star – Performance on a range of government buildings to benchmark operational performance and identify opportunities for incremental improvements and cost savings.”

Create better communities across NSW

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. 

“Green Star – Communities was launched in 2012 with the support and sponsorship of NSW’s Landcom.  We call on political parties to capitalise on Landcom’s investment and commit to certification for appropriate projects in UrbanGrowth NSW’s portfolio, such as Green Square and The Bays Precinct,” Ms Madew says.

“Achieving Green Star – Communities certification for government-controlled projects will ensure all new community-scale developments across NSW are good for people now, and good for people in the future.

“Recommitting to sustainability can help the next NSW Government meet a range of economic, social and environmental priorities – from reducing costs and future-proofing assets, through to improving the productivity, health and wellbeing of workers.  Most importantly, it can secure a better future for everyone in the state,” Ms Madew concludes.