Buildings are the single largest contributor to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, using 40 per cent of global energy and generating around 30 per cent of the carbon emissions. 1 In Australia, commercial and residential buildings alone contribute 23 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s no stretch to see that our buildings need to be part of the solution to climate change. Of course, a building’s impact is not limited to its energy consumption. Commuting patterns of occupants, the use and consumption of goods and materials, waste production and water use are all ways in which buildings can adversely affect our planet and its resources.

While the last few years has seen a ‘green gold rush’ of new buildings designed and constructed to the highest environmental standards, new construction accounts for only two per cent of our building stock.

Consider this: of Australia’s 21 million square metres of existing office stock, 81 per cent is over ten years of age, equalling more that 17.5 million square metres.

Most of these buildings are ‘brown’ buildings - not the green buildings we need. Many were constructed between 1960 and 1980 for as little money as possible, and with little thought to issues such as energy efficiency.

And that’s just offices. Australia also has around 9,500 schools and universities, 1,300 hospitals, 1,300 shopping centres, as well as countless square metres of other buildings such as libraries, law courts, town halls and industrial facilities. The vast majority of these buildings perform well below our current best practice environmental benchmarks.

Measurement is the first step towards better environmental management of our buildings. The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is currently developing the Green Star - Performance rating tool to assess the ongoing operational performance of existing buildings across many uses.

So, why should building owners, operators and tenants seek a Green Star - Performance certification?

Green Building Council of Australia
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