The power of Green Star – Performance

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The increasing uptake of this building rating tool is proof of its usefulness, writes Jorge Chapa, Green Star executive director, Green Building Council of Australia.

If it gets measured, it can be managed. Facilities managers understand this better than most, which is why the Green Star – Performance rating tool was developed to help the industry assess and address the sustainability of Australia’s existing buildings.

Green Star – Performance provides a consistent, holistic method of measuring building stock that enables building owners and managers to identify pathways to improve their assets over time.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) currently has over 30 projects registered, and the number of projects committing to achieving Green Star – Performance ratings is gathering pace. We expect our first certification by the middle of the year.

CREATING WIN-WINS

CFS Retail Property Trust Group has signed up Chatswood Chase shopping mall in Sydney, with head of sustainability, Rowan Griffin, acknowledging that “improving the operational performance of our centres reduces outgoings, which is better for both our tenants and our investors”.

Australand is taking its 27,000-square metre Keysborough Spec 1 industrial development in Melbourne through the Green Star – Performance process. The company’s sustainability manager, Paolo Bevilacqua, says, “In the context of rising utility costs and increased awareness among customers of sustainability principles, the Green Star – Performance rating tool provides even more impetus to pursue the most environmentally, socially and financially sustainable solutions.”

And Wyndham City Council is benchmarking its three-storey, 1970s municipal building, with Mayor of Wyndham, Councillor Bob Fairclough, saying the rating tool will enable Council to “measure the environmental performance of the Civic Centre, identify pathways to improve the building over time and reduce its operational costs”.

A further 30 buildings – including offices, libraries, art galleries, high schools and
early learning centres – are working with
us to register for ratings. Project teams will benchmark the operation of their buildings against nine environmental impact categories: management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions and innovation.

PILOT PHASE LEARNINGS

The learnings we’ve already gleaned during
the pilot phase will enable us to recalibrate our understanding of where ‘best practice’ currently sits. We’re also gaining valuable feedback from facilities managers, who are finding the Green Star – Performance process very useful.
One project team has recently taken its facilities management function in-house and is using Green Star – Performance to benchmark two office assets for which they have scant information.

Achieving Green Star – Performance ratings enables them to undertake a gap analysis and identify what is working well, and what needs attention and potential upgrading.

Another project team is using Green Star
– Performance for its public building and has found that the process has consolidated their operational documentation into the one place, and benchmarked a building that is not eligible for assessment under other environmental or energy rating schemes.

INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENT

Green Star – Performance has been designed to drive incremental improvements in buildings that could be two years old or 102 years
old, and ratings from one star (‘Minimum Performance’) to six stars (‘World Leadership’) are possible.

GBCA is also working with projects that may achieve three-star ratings initially, but have goals to reach five stars in the future. The Green Star – Performance process is helping these facilities management teams to better understand what steps they can take in-house, and those actions – such as upgrading plant or equipment – that require external consultants.

The gap analysis that Green Star – Performance provides is proving a valuable addition to the facility manager toolkit. Managers have been telling us that they are able to identify areas for improvement, and share that information with their building owners or investors. In many cases, the Green Star – Performance credits are helping them to speak the language of solutions, rather than problems – which is exactly what most stakeholders want to hear.

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