Building cleaner cities is critical

Our built environment is currently the world's single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, consuming one third of our water and generating 40 per cent of our waste.

It is nearly 20 years since the Property Council of Australia first started advocating for the establishment of a national, not-for-profit organisation to drive the adoption of green building practices and the integration of green building initiatives into the mainstream design, construction and operation of our built environment.

Founded in 2002, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is now uniquely supported by both industry and governments across the country in its objective of transitioning the Australian property industry towards sustainability.

In 2003, the GBCA launched Green Star - Australia's only national, voluntary, rating system for buildings and communities which is now recognised internationally for leading the way on sustainability. From individual buildings to entire communities, Green Star is transforming the way our built environment is designed, constructed and operated.

It is helping to improve environmental efficiencies in our buildings, while boosting productivity, creating jobs and improving the health and wellbeing of our communities. More than 1060 Green Star projects have been completed, totalling more than 14 million sqm of Green Star certified space.

The release of a new report, Low Carbon, High Performance, shows we can eliminate emissions from our buildings entirely by 2050. It also demonstrated how we can deliver healthier, more productive cities and save $20 billion using technologies that exist today.

But we need to move faster if we are to ensure the liveability, productivity and long-term sustainability of our cities. The report finds just five years of delay could lead to more than 170 megatonnes of lost emission-reduction opportunities, and $24 billion in wasted energy expenditure. 

It’s led the GBCA to an understanding that ‘partnership is the new leadership’ and that working collaboratively with governments, national associations and corporate partners is necessary to drive the global adoption of green building practices.

We are seeking commitment from all political parties on their promises to build a better, more sustainable future for all Australians.

First published in The Newcastle Herald, 6 June 2016.