Western Australia Must Look Beyond Green Building Icons

Perth GPO building

Perth’s GPO Building. Image Credit: HBO=EMTB

Political parties in Western Australia have been challenged to look beyond ‘showcases’ of aging building icons which have been transformed to achieve Green Star ratings and convert vast quantities of under-performing building stock into more sustainable and productive places of work or study.

In the lead-up to the state election next month, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has issued a generally positive assessment of the state’s performance against the Council’s three-point plan for resilient and sustainable communities.

Specifically, the GBCA has applauded moves on the part of the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority to require Green Star certification as a condition of development approval and set 5 Star Green Star minimum requirements for ‘lighthouse’ projects such as the Elizabeth Quay development on the Perth Waterfront.

The Council has also commended the state’s LandCorp for sponsoring the development of the Green Star – Communities rating tool, and has held up the retrofit of Perth’s GPO Building, which has achieved Green Star ratings for both the base building and the interior, as showcasing how aging icons can be transformed into an efficient, productive and sustainable space.

“We’ve found that, despite a slow start, the number of Green Star rated buildings in WA continues to grow, government and industry are working collaboratively, the GBCA’s state industry group is driving sustainability at the local level, and the government has assumed a leadership position on a number of key priorities,” GBCA executive director of advocacy Robin Mellon says.

Still, the GBCA says more is needed. The council says WA should follow the lead of Queensland and Victoria and mandate minimum Green-Star standards for all state owned office space.

elizabeth quay plans

Elizabeth Quay Perth. Credit: Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority

The council has also called on the government to offer incentives for green building retrofits and to look beyond ‘iconic’ refurbishments such as GPO to the mass of existing stock which it says is performing below par.

“The green retrofit of Perth’s GPO Building, which has achieved Green Star ratings for both the base building and interior, has showcased just how aging icons can be transformed into highly efficient, productive and sustainable spaces,” Mellon says. “WA’s challenge is to look beyond the icons to the vast quantities of existing stock that is currently performing well below our current environmental benchmarks.”

In its assessment of state governments, the GBCA measures policy performance against three criteria: provision of visionary public leadership, the retrofit and improvement of existing buildings and a focus which extends beyond buildings to communities and cities.

Mellon says the ongoing success or otherwise in developing sustainable buildings and communities will be a significant factor in the Western Australia’s long term achievement and prosperity.

“WA’s built environment will exist long after the mining boom has peaked,” he says. “The state’s future economic productivity, liveability and sustainability depend on a long-term commitment to policies and programs that drive sustainability in the built environment.”

By Ahn Jae Wook
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