The drive towards greater sustainability in built environments has resulted in many governments and large corporations including green principles into their property requirement.
The South Australian and Victorian State Governments, for example, have mandated that all new government-occupied office building developments achieve minimum Green Star standards. Consider also that 11% of Australia’s CBD commercial office buildings are Green Star certified, and that the Australian Institute of Project Management runs a ‘Why Sustainability?’ course, as part of their continuing professional development (CDP) program. It’s easy to see that understanding green building is now a project management imperative.
The job of a building project manager, whose responsibility it is to deliver all stated objectives as well as to ensure compliance and deliver market viability, can often be a huge challenge.
There are myriad project management tools that can assist in overseeing the triple constraints of cost, time and quality. Minimising risk, by ensuring compliance with the green building sector’s voluntary mechanisms, including NABERS and the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA’s) Green Star environmental rating system (Green Star), often requires detailed knowledge and documentation for implementation.
The good news is that there are accessible tools available to help streamline the workload of the green building project manager. Here we take a look at how best to identify credible ‘green claims’ on products as a way to achieving Green Star certification.
Green claims for products to be used in building design and fit outs can only be authenticated through verification by an independent, credible and recognised third party, as indicated by an Ecolabel.
The international principals and procedures for eco-labeling are set out in the International Organisation for Standards (ISO) ISO 14024. Within ISO 14024, there are three types of ecolabels, all are multi criteria and are based on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). A Type 3 ecolabel can be achieved through self- declaration and a Type 2 ecolabel can be achieved through audit by a second-party. The Type 1 ecolabel requires independent auditing by a third party, and is therefore regarded as the most robust, credible and assuring of the three.
The Environmental Choice Australia Ecolabel is the only Type 1 ecolabel on the Australian market. It is awarded by not-for- profit organisation Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) to products and services that meet voluntary environmental performance standards. GECA has 41 standards which are developed in accordance with ISO 14024 and are based on global best practice. The standards determine minimum environmental performance criteria across various aspects of a product or service’s life cycle, for example sourcing, manufacture, use and disposal.
The Green Star environmental rating system for buildings was launched by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), the peak national body that recognises and rewards environmental leadership in the design of the built environment. ‘Green Star’ is a comprehensive, national, voluntary environmental rating system that defines best practice for the design and construction of buildings. It is the GBCA’s key tool to assist the building industry in its transition to sustainable developments.
GECA’s was the first product certification scheme to be recognized by the GBCA within their Assessment Framework for Product Certification Schemes for Green Star Accreditation.
Put simply, this means that building fit-out products such as flooring, panel boards, carpets and loose furniture and fittings that are certified against certain GECA standards are rewarded within the GBCA’s Green Star environmental rating system for buildings and can earn maximum Green Star points for green star projects.
Growth of the Australian green building sector can be easily seen in growth of the GBCA’s membership, which was launched in 2002, and now stands at 900 organisations from a broad cross section of industry and government. Further, over 500 Green Star projects are currently registered for certification across Australian metropolitan centres.
Given this, understanding compliance within the sector is is one way to future-proof green building project management skills.
By looking out for products certified under GBCA-recognised GECA standards, project managers can easily streamline specification compliance and stay on the critical path to success for their next Green Star Project.