The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is urging Western Australia’s voters to make the state’s sustainable future a key issue in the upcoming March elections.

GBCA’s Senior Manager – Government & Industry, Jonathan Cartledge observes that WA has some of the fastest growing areas in Australia but there is an urgent need for a clear long-term plan to manage this growth. With Perth’s population expected to double in size over the next 15 years, a fully-funded plan is required to avoid traffic gridlocks and the diminishing quality of life already being experienced by residents of cities along the east coast.

Affordable housing is a distant dream with the cost of housing continuing to be a challenge in WA in spite of recent price falls. A new Demographia Housing Affordability survey of 406 global housing markets placed Perth in the top 20 least affordable major housing markets in the world. The average house in Perth now costs 6.1 times the average annual salary.

Cartledge adds that the GBCA is working with all political parties to encourage policies that support long-term integrated planning and sustainable development across WA.

The GBCA lists out five policy priorities for government action: Achieving more productive, liveable, sustainable and healthy cities; Securing more resilient communities; Delivering a low-carbon, high-performing built environment; Raising minimum standards through the National Construction Code; and, Facilitating sustainable utility infrastructure.

The West Coast has nearly 140 Green Star-rated projects including public buildings, shopping and distribution centres, apartments, offices, universities and large-scale communities. Cartledge notes that the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority’s requirement of Green Star certification as a condition of development approval, as well as 5 Star Green Star minimums mandated for all buildings at the Elizabeth Quay development on the Perth waterfront will help future-proof development at Elizabeth Quay.

However, Cartledge believes the need of the hour is to think beyond a building-by-building or project-by-project approach. A comprehensive plan that protects the natural environment, supports liveable communities and drives economic growth, is required to ensure WA’s sustainable future.