Green Star Rating – Driver of Australia’s “green” office building market

November 11, 2015 Sebastian Fastenrath, Marius Reißner

“Green” office buildings are becoming increasingly mainstream in Australia. Daylight usage, natural cross-ventilation, the integration of PV-installations and Co- or Tri-generation systems (energy, cooling, heating), energy modelling systems and water tanks are now frequent features in new office buildings. The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) continues to play an important role in this transition towards a “greener” office building market. The number of Green Star certified buildings is consistently growing, with almost 750 projects to date. The development appears unaffected by the recent global financial crisis and doesn’t show any sign of imminent market saturation.

Source: Reißner, GBCA data

Source: Reißner, GBCA data

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) continues to play an important role in this transition towards a “greener” office building market. The number of Green Star certified buildings is consistently growing, with almost 750 projects to date. The development appears unaffected by the recent global financial crisis and doesn’t show any sign of imminent market saturation.Similar to other building rating systems such as LEED in North America or BREEAM in the UK, GBCA’s Green Star certification system significantly influences the Australian building and construction industry. Founded in 2002 by representatives of governments administration and the construction industry, the GBCA certifies buildings under a number of rating schemes on a voluntary basis in Australia and New Zealand. Green Star certifications, launched in 2003, are predominantly applied to office buildings that make up 73% of the certifications.

The GBCA also provides a wide range of rating schemes for numerous other building types, including multi-unit residential, healthcare and educational facilities, industrial buildings and retail centers.The Green Star rating criteria include several evaluation categories, such as “Energy”, “Water”, “Materials”, “Transport” and “Management”. According to the achieved points per category, projects are certified as a four, five or six star Green Star.

Why green building certifications?

During the last ten years hundreds of “green” office buildings have been realised in Australian cities. Developers, institutional investors and public authorities especially apply for a Green Star certification for high-rise office building projects. These are predominantly located in the central business districts of the metropolitan areas (see map 1 and 2). Green Star certificates are thought to improve the marketing potentials of building projects and to raise the projects value and rental prices.  

Office vs. Residential market

While the number of Green Star certified buildings is continually increasing, the GBCA’s rating is still considered a “niche” in the context of the broader Australian property market. In the residential building sector, Green Star ratings are rare. A general lack of awareness of sustainability, in addition to the high assessment fees of the GBCA are the most significant barriers to the adoption of the Green Star rating system in the residential sector. GBCA is currently amending its rating categories to include a newly developed certificates for “Communities” and introduce a “Performance” rating, which will involve emission measurement instead of simulations for the first time in the history of the Green Star rating. These changes might lead to increased interest within the residential market. 

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