Green Building Council Australia assesses biodiversity in built environments

by Ned Lupson
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West Village

The Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) has released a new report promoting biodiversity and ecological value within built environments, a precursor to its upcoming industry roadmap for building with nature.

‘Building with Nature 2.0’ is an evolution upon GBCA’s initial 2018 report that also proposed changes to its voluntary sustainability rating system Green Star, with the maximum rating eventually being restricted in 2020. The updated version incorporates the views of industry members, current research and recent policies as well as setting out the next steps to deliver the ‘Nature roadmap for the Built Environment’.

 The report clarifies key themes that will be the foundation of the roadmap:

  • The built environment sector must rapidly move towards improved nature outcomes.
  • Collaborative action must occur between government, private and not-for-profit sectors.
  • Nature must be viewed as being connected to all other sustainability challenges.
  • Nature must be considered throughout the built environment’s value chain.
  • Indigenous knowledge and ownership must be prioritised.
  • All stakeholders must have an opportunity to create positive nature impacts.

A featured case study in the report is Sekisui House’s West Village development in Queensland’s West End, which was awarded a 6 Star Green Star rating. The project was designed to embody the Japanese concept of Satoyama, harmony between people and biodiversity.

GBCA identified sustainability highlights of the project, including:

  • planting 100 mature trees and more than 10,000 plants, including 3000 natives,
  • embedding a site-wide, 100 percent carbon neutral electrical network sourced from sustainable energy, and
  • incorporating a rainwater and grey water recycling system.

The established Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne also features in the report, with owner GPT Group’s commitment to hitting positive biodiversity goals through new technology deemed noteworthy. GPT’s head of sustainability and energy Steve Ford acknowledges that since the built environment replaces natural habitat, its net impact can never be positive.

But he believes “there are steps we can take to improve biodiversity over time and compensate for the residual impacts.”

 GPT partnered with biodiversity restoration not-for-profit Greenfleet to assess the site for improvement. The resultant recommendations included revegetating green spaces with native flora and reassessing the centre’s management of invasive species and herbicides.

The full GBCA report can be found here.

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