The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has urged all political parties in New South Wales to ‘seize the sustainability agenda’ ahead of the polls. All political parties are being asked to outline their policies to deliver liveable, sustainable and resilient buildings and communities for the people of NSW.

According to the GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, NSW currently boasts 197 Green Star-rated buildings including commercial skyscrapers, suburban shopping centres, university facilities and public housing developments. The state is second only to Victoria in terms of Green Star ratings achieved, and has the opportunity to take the top position with the right policies and visionary government leadership.

Madew observes that unfortunately, not one of the 197 Green Star-certified buildings in NSW is a state government building. Citing the initiatives taken by the Victorian, South Australian and ACT Governments in rating different types of buildings, she called on all NSW parties to commit to sustainable, productive and cost-effective buildings and communities.

For instance, the Victorian Government has rated a range of building types from offices and farmers markets, through to conference centres and railway stations. The South Australian Government is rating its hospitals and community-scale developments, and the ACT Government is focused on schools and new communities.

The GBCA’s advocacy agenda outlines three clear government-led initiatives that can strengthen NSW’s property and construction industry and improve the efficiency, productivity and long-term sustainability of the State’s buildings, communities and cities.

Certify new and existing buildings using Green Star

Based on the premise that Government leadership encourages the market to meet higher benchmarks for better buildings, the GBCA calls on all parties to commit to achieving Green Star certification for government-owned, occupied and operated buildings.

Encourage industry to move beyond standard practice

The Government should extend financial and non-financial incentives including training, capacity building, awareness-raising and environmental upgrade agreements to help NSW building owners and the broader industry to move beyond standard practice and accelerate upgrades of existing buildings. The GBCA also calls on the incoming government to encourage the uptake of rating tools such as Green Star Performance and NABERS Energy and NABERS Water as a way to benchmark and identify opportunities for incremental improvement.

Create better communities across NSW

The GBCA urges all political parties to make an ongoing commitment to Green Star – Communities by referencing the rating tool and national framework in policies and planning strategies. Achieving Green Star – Communities certification for government-controlled projects will ensure all new community-scale developments across NSW are good for people now, and in the future.

Madew concludes that a renewed commitment to sustainability can help the next NSW Government meet a range of economic, social and environmental priorities, securing a better future for everyone in the state.