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New GBCA tool aims to eliminate natural gas in 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.

Launched today, as the first of the new suite of Green Star Future Focus tools, Green Star Buildings sets a clear new requirement that buildings must be net-zero – fully electric, fossil fuel free and 100 per cent powered by renewables – to achieve the highest possible 6 Star rating.

GBCA CEO Davina Rooney says the release of Green Star Buildings marks the start of a new era that will drive the transformation of buildings to net-zero at scale.

“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,” Rooney says.

“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.”

Green Star Buildings has been developed throughout an in-depth two-year consultation period and will be supported by the launch of an online Green Star portal in the first quarter of 2021.

The GBCA says that the fresh approach to Green Star 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 Rooney says the results have been very promising.

“Our early access partners have proven that Green Star Buildings can be applied to any type of building – from offices and industrial facilities to aquatic centres and university precincts,” Rooney says.

Projects include Darebin City Council’s plans for the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre in Melbourne, a banana ripening facility, and Charter Hall’s new temperature-controlled logistics hub. Atlassian has also signed on to use Green Star Buildings for its flagship new Sydney headquarters.

“Green Star Buildings is a tool for our time,” says Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, GBCA Chair, CEO of Mirvac. “It encourages bold action to eliminate emissions and responds to the needs of building developers, owners, tenants and investors alike who no longer want just a great building, they want a great green building.”

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