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    Sustainability goes post-aspirational, says GBCA

    Branko Miletic

    As head of market transformation for the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), over the past decade, Jorge Chapa has seen the evolution of the GBCA’s strategic priorities, partnerships, and products and services, including Green Star and the transformation of Australia’s built environment.

    Way back in August 2007, when Chapa joined the GBCA, sustainability was, for want of a better term, aspirational.  

    For example, non-toxic paints were difficult to find, commissioning buildings was controversial, cycling facilities were possible only if the budget stretched far enough, while the prevailing industry opinion was that five stars were enough for NABERS, and the general view out there was that solar panels in buildings were never going to work.

    Over that time, Chapa says he has seen the whole attitude change quite considerably across the industry.

    “When I took on my first role with the GBCA,” says Chapa, “exactly 30 buildings had achieved Green Star ratings”

    “Most of the iconic Green Star projects – from 1 Bligh Street to Westfield Sydney, from the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to Pixel, and from the Sydney Opera House to Barangaroo – were years away from gaining their certification,” he says.

    “Since then, I've witnessed countless changes both within the industry and the GBCA. I've even been responsible for some of those. From operating a rating system focused on commercial buildings, we now rate everything from McDonald's restaurants to new communities.”

    “We've created a successful scheme for buildings in operation. We've forged better partnerships with Australian organisations and created international ones that are leading the way for sustainable buildings worldwide,” Chapa says.

    “Most importantly, I've seen an additional 1,647 buildings achieve Green Star ratings, which makes Australia one of the greenest markets in the world per capita. In many sectors of the property industry, sustainability is now business as usual.”

    A few days ago, our board of directors met to set our goals for the year to build on our strategy. It's an exciting direction for GBCA, and one that I'm proud to continue to be part of,” says Chapa.

    “Shifting the conversation on homes, driving the uptake of carbon neutral buildings and fitouts, and more aggressive updates to Green Star are all on the cards,” he notes.

    “We're ready to go into uncharted waters, but in the last 10 years, we’ve learnt to swim in many deep oceans, and I’m confident we’ll continue to navigate our course with the same drive, determination and success.”

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