Cheaper Green Star certification on the cards

The new Green Star – Design & As Built rating tool is closely aligned with current investor and tenant demands, lowers long-term risk, future proofs assets, and is delivering value for money.

Projects from aquatic centres to apartments, from restaurants to retirement living villages, and from stadia to shopping centres are set to achieve Green Star – Design & As Built ratings over the next year, as the industry embraces the new evolution of Australia’s sustainability rating system.

Australand, which already has 1.3 million sqm of Green Star-rated commercial, industrial and retail space, committed to 5 Star Green Star – Design & As Built ratings for all new projects in June, with Australand’s head of commercial and industrial, Sean McMahon, saying the commitment “reinforces our commitment to our customers”.

“We are working with our customers to ensure they understand the financial payback and benefits of future-proofing these assets against major rises in energy and water costs – and an independently-verified Green Star rating is a good way to do this,” McMahon says.

The Green Building Council of Australia’s executive director Jorge Chapa believes the new rating tool responds better to industry’s needs. He says the new rating tool, which combines both design and construction ratings, will reduce the cost and compliance burdens associated with certification.

“Not only does Green Star – Design & As Built lower exposure to climate-related events, it also lowers operating expenses and maintenance costs by setting benchmarks at levels appropriate for today’s needs and technology capabilities,” Chapa explains.

“We’ve also reduced the documentation requirements for the ‘design’ component, which means developers can promote a building’s Green Star outcomes earlier and achieve greater marketing benefit,” Chapa says.

Adelaide’s 185 Pirie Street (pictured) achieved the first Green Star – Design & As Built optional Design Review rating in June. The building’s developer, Palumbo, was keen for Green Star to be a central pillar of its marketing campaign for new tenants.

“Certifying the design using the previous rating tool, Office v3, would have occurred at least six months later – too late to have provided much marketing benefit,” explains the project’s environmental consultant, Paul Davy, from dsquared consulting.

Palumbo is expecting the Green Star rating will translate into a broader tenancy base, particularly from interstate companies with high expectations of sustainable office space. Outgoings will be lower and the operating expenditure is expected to be more favourable, with a fast payback period on the sustainability features delivering a quality asset.

Davy says there was “no cost impost” in moving to the new rating tool.

“It’s actually been a bit cheaper. Certification fees are significantly down, and as we are able to spend less time preparing a submission, we can keep our consultancy fees down too,” Davy says.

Wood & Grieve Engineers’ sustainability manager, Prasanna Suraweera, has also been advising his clients to use the new rating tool.

“If you’re trying to lease a building, you want to make sure it’s benchmarked to the latest rating tool. From an asset valuation point of view, we believe using Green Star – Design & As Built makes sense.”

“It’s about future proofing. Using an older version of Green Star is like going to the Apple Store and asking for an iPhone 2,” Suraweera concludes.

Find out more about Green Star – Design & As Built.