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Victoria, you deserve better

As the Victorian election draws near, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has scrutinised the Napthine Government’s commitment to efficient, healthy, productive buildings and communities – and the results are in.

“A survey of Victorian residents conducted earlier this year found that 99 per cent of Victorians believe it is important for the state’s hospitals to be efficient, healthy and cost effective, and 97 per cent believe the same for schools,” says the GBCA’s Chief Operating Officer, Robin Mellon.

“Eighty-six per cent of Victorians think it is important that children learn in green schools and for healthcare facilities to be green.

“So Victorians want their buildings to be green – and yet when assessed against the GBCA’s three advocacy priorities, the Napthine Government has demonstrated a wavering commitment to the policies and programs that will improve the efficiency, productivity and long-term sustainability of our buildings, communities and cities.”

Demonstrating visionary government leadership

“While we applaud the Victorian Government’s investment in the Regional Rail Link project, which has delivered five train stations with Green Star ratings, the Napthine Government has not committed to any new green building programs or projects during its term,” says Mr Mellon.

“It is disappointing to see the ‘Greener Government Buildings’ program disbanded.  This program achieved cost savings of more than $1.2 million a year across 16 key government buildings, as well as a reduction of more than 8,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Victoria has the highest number of certified Green Star projects of any state or territory – with 225 Green Star ratings for both public and private buildings.  But the number of projects registering to achieve Green Star ratings has dropped in recent years, and Victoria is in danger of losings its leadership status.

“Government leadership encourages the market to meet higher benchmarks for better buildings – more efficient, healthy, productive and resilient places in which to live, work, learn or heal.  We encourage the incoming government to reinstate the Greener Government Building program, and to reinvigorate its commitment to Green Star ratings for buildings owned, occupied or developed – including for the recently-announced PPP of 13 schools.”

Support for the retrofit and improvement of existing buildings

“The Victorian Government’s attempt to wind up the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target is regrettable, given that it is encouraging investment, employment and innovation in industries that can make our buildings more efficient,” Mr Mellon says.

“We are pleased with the support of the Victorian Government, as well as that of The Greens and the Victorian Labor Party, for Environmental Upgrade Agreements as part of a range of mechanisms and support for building owners to upgrade existing buildings; however EUAs won’t work in isolation, and must be part of a broader, holistic program which includes investment in capacity building and education.”

Moving beyond buildings to communities and cities

“The Victorian Government’s master plan for Fishermans Bend – a project it calls ‘Australia’s most significant urban renewal project’ – makes no commitment to achieve best practice benchmarks for sustainability,” Mr Mellon explains.

“Many other state governments around Australia are using the Green Star – Communities rating tool and we call on the incoming government to commit to achieving best practice benchmarks that ensure that all new community-scale developments across Victoria are productive, sustainable, liveable, affordable, resilient places to live.

“In particular, we challenge all parties to commit to Green Star outcomes for the new Federation Square East and the E-Gate projects.

“Improving the performance of Victoria’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 demonstrates fiscal responsibility with taxpayer dollars and the understanding of a sustainable business model,” Mr Mellon explains.

“Victorians deserve political leaders that can demonstrate their commitment to building a more sustainable future – a more efficient future, a better future – for all Victorians,” Mr Mellon concludes.