In our last post, we focused on the Federal Government’s review of its Commercial Building Disclosure program, which was introduced by the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010, along with other measures to improve energy-efficiency in commercial buildings.
It was developed by all Australian governments as part of the broader national strategy directed at energy-efficiency.
In the days since, there has been a significant development in the push for healthier buildings, which are promoted by the Green Building Council of Australia.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA)
GBCA is a not-for-profit industry association. It was established in 2002 to promote sustainability in the built environment and was one of eight national councils that helped to found the World Green Building Council. It has been responsible for development off the Green Star rating system for buildings and communities, and released the first Green Star rating tool for offices in 2003.
That has been followed over the years by rating tools for office interiors, education, healthcare and industrial facilities, public buildings, multi-unit residential developments, and retail centres and communities. It also has developed rating tools for supermarkets, restaurants and mixed-use developments, and has certified more than 1,050 buildings, communities and fitouts.
The Green Star system takes into consideration occupant-health, productivity and operational-cost savings, promotes environment-sensitive design and construction, and assesses buildings, fitouts and communities against a number of environmental impact categories.
GBCA members comprise developers, local, state and federal governments, building owners, professional services firms, investors, manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, facility and asset managers, universities, professional societies, utilities and contractors.
The growing focus on heathy buildings has seen the GCBA put in place a collaboration agreement with the US-based International WELL Building Institute to achieve common goals. The partnership was announced at the recent Green Cities 2016 conference in Sydney.
The IWBI administers the WELL Building Standard, which is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring elements of the built environment that impact on health, including air, comfort, light, mental and physical states, and nourishment.
GBCA and WELL Building Institute Collaboration
The two organisations plan to work together to identify opportunities to align their rating systems, develop events and education offerings, and promote building practices that improve health and wellbeing. Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which provides third-party certification for the WELL Building Standard, will also support efforts to promote and deliver WELL across Australia.
GBCI is a US organisation that provides third-party verification and accreditation for several rating systems relating to the built environment. It was established as the Green Building Certification Institute in January 2008 with the support of the US Green Building Council to provide independent oversight of the country’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design project certification and professional accreditation processes.
The name change occurred a year ago after LEED began providing the service for the WELL Building Standard and for other environment-focused US organisations.
GCBA chief executive Romilly Madew, in announcing the collaboration, said a truly sustainable building not only addresses environmental impact, but also social and economic impact. “Green Star’s focus on indoor environment-quality provides a critical foundation for human health and wellbeing – one which WELL enhances through its dedicated focus on evidence-based medical and scientific research and measurable performance,” he said.
“We are excited to be joining with IWBI to elevate the focus on buildings that are efficient, productive and healthy for the people who live and work in them. Increasingly, Australians recognise that our buildings have a dramatic impact on our health and wellbeing. The new partnership is an important step towards designing and building places that are sustainable, productive and healthy.”
IWBI founder Paul Scialla said, “[the collaboration] will help grow the healthy building movement by bringing health and wellness into Australia’s indoor environments through the WELL Building Standard. With this agreement, we see tremendous opportunity for the wellness, sustainability and real estate communities in Australia to come together to support human health through the buildings where we spend more than 90% of our time.”
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