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South Australians want greener schools and hospitals: South Australia's political leaders must strengthen commitment

As the South Australian election draws near, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is calling on state political leaders to strengthen their commitment to more efficient, healthy, productive buildings and communities, and outline the policies and programs that will place the state on a clear, long-term pathway to sustainability.

A survey of South Australian residents conducted by the Online Research Unit on behalf of the GBCA earlier this month found that 100 per cent of people believe it is important for the state’s hospitals to be efficient, healthy and cost effective, and 99 per cent believe the same for schools. 

Eighty-nine per cent of South Australians think it is important that children learn in green schools, while 90 per cent think it is important for healthcare facilities to be green.

“Clearly, South Australians want their buildings to be green.  We need the state’s political leaders to outline the policies and programs that will support the shift to sustainable buildings – because they don’t have to cost any more than business-as-usual,” says the GBCA’s Chief Operating Officer, Robin Mellon.

South Australia currently has 58 Green Star-rated building projects in South Australia, including the nation’s first Green Star-rated hospital, the Flinders Medical Centre – New South Wing.  The New Royal Adelaide Hospital is also registered to achieve a Green Star rating. Two major projects – Bowden Village and Tonsley Park in Adelaide – are among the first in Australia to commit to Green Star – Communities ratings.

“When government demonstrates leadership, it encourages the market to meet higher benchmarks for sustainable buildings.  Today, South Australia has some of the nation’s most outstanding sustainable buildings and has set new best practice benchmarks for green healthcare facilities,” Mr Mellon says.

“We encourage all political parties to build upon these achievements and re-commit to certified Green Star ratings for buildings owned, occupied or developed by the South Australian Government – including offices, schools, hospitals and public buildings.

“Improving the performance of South Australia’s buildings can deliver a range of economic, social and environmental benefits – from reduced costs to improved occupant productivity, health and wellbeing.  A commitment to efficient buildings also demonstrates fiscal responsibility with taxpayer dollars,” Mr Mellon explains.

South Australia’s latest strategic plan identifies healthcare and education buildings as the government’s largest contributors to energy usage, and the SA Strategic Plan 2012 review has set a target to improve the energy efficiency of government buildings by 30 per cent by 2020.

“We know that Green Star-certified buildings use 66 per cent less electricity than average Australian buildings, so a commitment to achieve Green Star outcomes can deliver significant energy savings,” Mr Mellon says.

“We also know that efficient, healthy, productive buildings are important to the people of South Australia.  We need our political leaders to demonstrate their commitment to delivering more efficient, healthier and more productive buildings.  The people of South Australia deserve no less,” Mr Mellon concludes.