For nearly a decade, a Green Star rating has been a symbol of environmental sustainability in Australia. From glittering skyscrapers to low-rise schools, Green Star has driven a market shift which encourages an integrated, holistic approach to building design and construction.
Until now, Green Star was restricted to buildings. In June 2012, the Green Building Council of Australia launched the Green Star – Communities rating tool to assess and certify the sustainability of community-level development projects.
Green Star – Communities evaluates environmental issues – such as minimising energy and water consumption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing waste and reducing dependence on motor vehicles. However, the rating tool also reaches beyond environmental efficiencies to broader holistic sustainability issues, such as economic prosperity, liveability and health.
The ‘Liveability’ category, for instance, rewards projects that encourage healthy, active communities through parks, playgrounds, cycle ways and footpaths, as well as through local food production.
The ‘Economic Prosperity’ category encourages projects to consider proximity to employment and education opportunities, and access to high speed internet. Strategies for improving housing affordability, developing local skills and enhancing investment in community infrastructure are also encouraged.
The first project to register for a Green Star – Communities PILOT rating was the ‘loop’ precinct – a 40,000 square metre development at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets in Canberra. Rock Development Group’s plan for the precinct includes Green Star-rated buildings, electric vehicle recharge points, a residential car-pooling scheme, precinct-wide energy generation, waste management, and a focus on healthy, active living.
With support from industry and federal, state and local government, the Green Building Council of Australia expects Green Star – Communities rating tool to become a voluntary national standard.
The Green Star – Communities rating tool will provide federal government with a vehicle for delivering policy outcomes, state governments with guidance for planning and approval of significant projects, and local governments with a framework for greater sustainable development outcomes and collaboration with industry. The rating tool will also facilitate more efficient development processes and ultimately help developers get their products out to market quicker. Financiers will gain a framework for sustainable investment. And consumers will have the ability to make informed decisions Greenstarabout their lifestyles.