After four years in the making, 38 sponsors and supporters, 135 members of technical working groups and committees, and 38 credits refined down from 85, the Green Star – Communities PILOT rating tool is here.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has brought together industry and government to build what is one of the world’s first rating tools for sustainable communities.
Green Star – Communities is a third-party, independent, transparent, national scheme able to assess and certify the sustainability of community-level development projects.
The Green Star – Communities PILOT rating tool assesses environmental issues within communities – such as minimising energy and water consumption, and reducing dependence on motor vehicles – alongside broader holistic sustainability issues, such as economic prosperity, liveability and governance.
Some of the outcomes that Green Star – Communities will bring to development projects include:
- Liveability: Projects are rewarded for good access to amenities, affordable housing, and implementing strategies to reduce crime. Healthy communities are also encouraged with credits rewarding parks and playgrounds, community food gardens, and provision of cycling and walking amenities.
- Economic prosperity: Proximity to employment and education opportunities, and access to high speed internet, are all rewarded. Strategies for improving affordability, developing local skills and enhancing investment in community infrastructure are also encouraged.
- Environment: Site sensitivity, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, addressing the heat island effect, reducing potable water consumption, waste management, materials selection and alternative methods of transport are considered.
- Community Design: Green Star – Communities rewards projects that embrace design review processes and respond to national best practice urban design principles. Projects that develop a comprehensive site analysis that underpins the urban structure and form are also encouraged.
- Governance: Good governance is rewarded through credits that target best practice corporate responsibility practices, but also enhance knowledge and understanding of sustainability, engage with the community and build resilience.
- Innovation: Projects that pioneer new initiatives or exceed benchmarks of Australian excellence will be rewarded innovation points.
Green Star – Communities delivers a wide range of benefits across the industry – whether that’s a developer or a designer, a planner or a policy maker, or simply a person wanting to live in a community that offers a high quality of life.
For the property sector, the rating tool will facilitate more efficient development processes and ultimately help developers get their products out to market quicker. Financiers will gain a framework for sustainable investment. Federal government will gain a vehicle for delivering policy outcomes, state governments with guidance for planning and approval of significant projects, and local governments with a framework for greater sustainable development outcomes. And consumers will have the ability to make informed decisions about their lifestyles.
Adam Beck is Manager for Sustainable Communities at the Green Building Council of Australia. The project is the largest and most ambitious project ever undertaken by the GBCA in its nine year history and is set to become a national best practice voluntary standard for sustainable development in Australia.
Adam has over 15 years experience in environmental and social planning and for the past 8 years has focussed on developing and implementing sustainability tools for built environment projects. He has developed and facilitated sustainability assessment processes for major development and research projects for public and private sector organisations throughout urban and rural Australia.