Green Star eliminating natural gas and electrifying buildings
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is pushing to eliminate natural gas in buildings with the biggest overhaul of its Green Star rating system in 18 years.
As the first of the new suite of Green Star Future Focus tools, Green Star Buildings is setting a clear requirement that buildings must be net-zero, fully electric, fossil fuel free and 100% powered by renewables to achieve the highest possible six-star rating.
GBCA chief executive Davina Rooney says the release marks the start of a new era: “While we currently have a lot of ‘nearly net-zero’ buildings in Australia, there are only a handful of genuine net-zero buildings. Green Star Buildings has been designed with industry and government to ensure net-zero becomes the norm.
“There is overwhelming support from industry to eliminate carbon emissions from buildings and construction to meet our obligations under the Paris Agreement, prevent assets becoming stranded and, ultimately, put a stop to unsustainable changes to our climate.
“Climate change is a global challenge that manifests itself in very local ways. The bushfires and coronavirus pandemic have shown us that our buildings need to be more resilient to changes in climate and more focused on the health of people.
“Green Star Buildings responds to these challenges in very practical ways introducing, for example, a new filtration requirement to help clean the air that we breathe and reduce the risk of disease spreading.
“It is a timely and necessary response to a rapidly evolving risk environment. Certification under the new tool will set projects apart, enhancing their enduring value through increased resilience.”
The Green Star Buildings rating tool has been in development for some time, with GBCA consulting closely with a broad range of industry and government stakeholders.
The result is a fresh approach to Green Star which translates industry’s ambition into a much higher standard for action geared towards delivering highly efficient buildings, powered by renewables and designed for the future.
Prominent projects across Australia have been given early access to Green Star Buildings to test how it will work in a range of different buildings – and Davina says the results have been very promising.
On average, GBCA has certified over 1.6 million square metres of new building space per year over the last five years.
“If we continue at our current rate of certification, over the next ten years we will cumulatively save the same volume of emissions that 1.32 coal-fired power stations emit in a year. Our new Green Star Buildings will multiply those savings even further,” Davina says.
“With buildings accounting for one-quarter of Australia’s carbon emissions on average, Green Star Buildings is the rating tool we need to achieve the level of change our nation and our future generations need.”
While Green Star Buildings encourages electrification, the rating tool also supports any emerging technologies or green gas which aligns with Australia’s goals in energy transformation and emissions reduction.