400 stars. When looking up at a clear night’s sky, 400 hardly seems like a number to begin to describe anything remotely significant up above. But when it comes to the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), 400 is quite a big number. In 2003 the GBCA responded to the industry’s demands and “launched the Green Star environmental rating system for buildings … to support the property and construction industry in reducing the environmental impact of buildings, driving innovation in sustainable building practices, improving occupant health and productivity and achieving cost savings” (Green Building Council Australia, 2012). And now they can proudly say that they have certified a total of 400 projects since the first in 2004.
The environmental star rating system was set in place to help the GBCA continue to “drive the transition of the Australian property industry towards sustainability by promoting green building programs, technologies, design practices and operations as well as the integration of green building initiatives into mainstream design, construction and operation of buildings” (Green Building Council Australia, 2012). In order to receive one of these stars, a building project must focus on the nine categories the Green Star is broken down into. These include “management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use & ecology, emissions and innovation” (Green Building Council Australia, 2012). From these categories a building project can receive credits based on how well the building “addresses an initiative that improves or has the potential to improve environmental performance” (Green Building Council Australia, 2012). There are points awarded in each credit that then add up to total a score that will fall into one of three certified ratings. Any building project can receive either a 4 Star (score 45-59) – “Best Practice,” 5 Star (score 60-74) – “Australian Excellence,” or 6 Star (score 75-100) – “World Leadership” Green Star Certified Rating. Brings the common saying “reach for the stars” to a whole new level.
All this makes me wonder what the future holds. What if the Green Star rating system became more than just a reward program for buildings that went above and beyond the call of duty? What if the Green Star program became a standard for all buildings just the same as how a fire exit is? What if 10, 20, 50 years down the road we weren’t searching for the building companies that aim to achieve great things, but what if all companies were expected to uphold to a “green” standard to begin with? As with all things related to money, the most successful things are those the consumers want to buy into. Quite frankly I don’t think it is up to the building companies and random rating programs to set the standards for us to buy into. It is up to us to stand up and demand what we know we deserve. What our children deserve. What this world deserves.
Let’s make the extraordinary the standard that all others should aim to achieve.
Green Building Council Australia. (2012, February 17). 400 Green Star certified projects – and counting! Retrieved February 20, 2012, from Green Building Council Australia: http://www.gbca.org.au/news/gbca-media-releases/400-green-star-certified-projects-and-counting/33827.htm
Green Building Council Australia. (2012). Home. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from Green Building Council Australia: http://www.gbca.org.au/
Info Please. (2005). Australia. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from Info Please: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107296.html