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Creating sustainable food for the soul

Romilly Madew, Chief Executive Officer
Green Building Council of Australia

Public buildings are the heart of our communities. From national galleries to local libraries, and from town halls to places of worship, public buildings bring Australians together. They inspire us, they teach us, and they provide the services that keep our society functioning. For this very reason, public buildings have a unique and important role to play in educating the community about sustainability.

Last week, we were excited to release Green Star – Public Building v1, after an extended period of consultation with industry and a two year pilot period which helped us to refine the rating tool’s credits.

Green Star – Public Building v1 will help us to engage with new segments of the community and capture the hearts and minds of consumers. Not everyone can work in a Green Star-rated office (yet!), but most will visit a local library, community centre, art gallery or cinema at least once, if not many times a year. If we can build these spaces green, we are building greener attitudes and a greener future.

The majority of public building projects are high-profile and community-driven, so they must deliver ongoing operational efficiencies, long-term value and community pride – all things that Green Star buildings are proven to deliver.

The Corso at North Lakes, Moreton Bay Regional Council’s new state-of-the-art library, community centre and office complex, will be more than simply a repository for books. It will provide insight and inspiration into the benefits of living, working or even simply visiting a sustainable building.

Libraries are food for the soul, or “nutrimentum spiritus” as the inscription above the doors to the Berlin Royal Library declares. The Corso at North Lakes will be food for the sustainable soul of Moreton Bay – one of Australia’s fastest growing regions.

Visitors will be able to engage with interactive, real-time information on the building’s energy and water usage, which will educate and empower the community. As the Council’s Director of Major Projects, Alan Sheridan, says: “providing real-time energy and water data, we hope to inspire the community to consider their own resource consumption, and support the users of our facilities to be more engaged and informed.”

It’s not hard to tell that community pride is in the design of The Corso at North Lakes. While this 5 Star Green Star – Public Building is still some way from completion, the Moreton Bay community can already proudly claim the very first Green Star-rated library in the country.

When building projects are funded by public money, project owners must be able to demonstrate the value of their investments – particularly in this, a year of election promises and national budget debate. Green Star – Public Building will give Australian communities confidence that their public spaces, be they libraries or law courts, are cost-effective, sustainable assets over the long-term. Now that’s food for Australia’s sustainable soul.