Green Star update signals industry shift toward carbon zero

The Green Building Council of Australia has updated its Green Star tools to prioritize carbon reduction, another signal that the industry is gearing up for a push toward carbon zero commercial buildings.

There are now minimum greenhouse gas requirements, with 5 Star Green Star buildings needing to obtain three Greenhouse Gas Emissions credit points and be 25 percent more efficient than a standard building; and 6 Star Green Star buildings needing a minimum of six credits and to be 50 percent more efficient than a standard building, reports The Fifth Estate.

The tightening of requirements is quite modest, as 95 percent of Green Star-rated buildings currently meet the requirements, though GBCA head of market transformation Jorge Chapa said it sent a signal to the market that carbon reduction was being prioritized.

The news follows comments by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council revealing that “significant” increases in minimum energy standards for commercial buildings could be seen in the 2019 National Construction Code update. ASBEC’s project with ClimateWorks will also create an industry-led evidence base to adopt long-term energy stringency targets from 2022, which could see a pathway to net zero set in the NCC.

Other changes made include measures to build industry capacity in air-tightness testing, a new materials pathway to incentivize the use of sustainably sourced structural timber; and new requirements to enhance the health and well-being of construction workers.

An air permeability performance-testing requirement is now part of a core component of the Commissioning and Tuning credit.

“This is about building industry capacity and educating project teams about the value of air-tightness testing,” Chapa said.

There’s a new prescriptive pathway for the use of structural timber. The pathway was originally designed to promote engineered timbers like CLT and glulam, but after industry feedback it has been extended to the use of all sustainably sourced structural timbers.

The Construction Environmental Management credit has been renamed the Responsible Construction Practices credit, and includes a point for project teams that can demonstrate staff support through health and well-being programs.

Another small change includes new innovation challenges on carbon neutrality, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.


Topics: Associations / Organizations, Building Owners and Managers, Certifications, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design

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