February 13, 2018 / News
The vast expanse of Australia, its diverse landscapes and extreme weather have provided fertile ground for green building design and construction to thrive. The unique nature of Australia's environment, coupled with the scarcity of natural resources, have created the perfect conditions for sustainable innovation to occur.
One of the most notable industries that Australia is a world leader in, is Green Building Design and Construction. For example, the CSIRO developed OptiCOOL, which is an advanced heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system that reduces energy consumption by 10-30 per cent. OptiCOOL has been successfully commercialised and is now helping to reduce energy usage around the world.
Building design and construction has been a key focus for change, as it is a significant consumer of resources and energy, and is also one of the largest contributors of pollution and landfill in the country. According to the Australian Property Institute's 'Building Better Returns' report, Buildings contribute approximately 23% of carbon dioxide emissions, 71% of energy usage, 16% of water usage, 30% of solid landfill waste, and 40% of raw materials.
As the state of the environment increases in importance, there has been a universal push for businesses to reduce their footprint.
The need to conserve natural resources for future generations, has been a major catalyst for sustainability breakthroughs and innovations.
Green Building & Construction In Australia
With the future looking more and more 'green', there has been a significant shift towards building design and construction that is environmentally conscious and efficient in its use of energy, water and materials. A greater number of design and construction businesses are integrating environmentally conscious practices into their business model, processes, and structures.
According to the BCI Economics' Green Building Market Report 2014, 90% of the building and construction businesses that were surveyed, were involved in projects that had 'green' elements. With sustainability being integrated into most new developments, Australia's built environment is evolving to reflect a 'green' future.
Another indicator of the growing importance of sustainability and environmental-consciousness, is the establishment of independent organisations to oversee green building design and construction.
One of the most prominent bodies is the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). The Green Building Council of Australia is dedicated to educating businesses on going 'green', promoting its practical application, and advocating for the 'sustainable transformation of Australia's built environment'. The GBCA is also responsible for creating 'Green Star', which is Australia's only national rating system that assesses the sustainability of buildings and communities. 'Green Star' is a comprehensive rating system that looks at the ' sustainable design, construction and operation of buildings, fitouts, and communities'. Green Star is internationally-recognised, and the prestige of this sustainability rating system has helped to encourage the widespread adoption of eco-friendly practices in the industry, as these businesses strive towards receiving their own Green Star certification.
Significant progress has been made across the board, with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) now requiring a minimum energy star rating of 6 out of 10 for all new houses and townhouses. This clearly shows that the green movement is here to stay, with environmental standards progressively being raised. This is a direct response to the growing significance of the environment, and the subsequent public pressure for building design and construction companies to minimise their impact.
Times have changed and attitudes have shifted. The environment is now a major topic at the forefront of public discussion, and its preservation is a top priority. So, to evolve alongside this change, building and construction companies are increasingly embracing the concept of going 'green'.
Green building design and construction has two key benefits - environmental and economic.
The environmental benefits of going 'green' are clear. Resources are used more efficiently, energy consumption is reduced, carbon emissions are minimised and the natural environment is better preserved for future generations.
Aside from its environmental benefits, sustainable building design and construction has also proven to improve market position and boost a business' bottom line. So, not only is going 'green' environmentally responsible, but also the smart thing to do for the.
Building design and construction companies that make an active commitment to sustainability, may gain a competitive advantage in the market. Since, environmental consciousness is now top of mind and there is strong consumer demand for it, construction businesses that align with this sentiment may be looked upon more favourably than those that don't. With trends forecasting the 'green' movement to grow, being environmentally responsible will be the new norm and businesses that fail to go 'green', run the risk of being left behind.
Another key business benefit of engaging in sustainable practices, is cost reduction. Construction businesses that go green may incur additional expenses initially to receive certification. However, in the long run construction companies can save money. This is because with green building and design, the use of all resources and materials are optimised. Careful planning is required to calculate the exact quantities required, in order to help minimise costs and wastage. If there are any excess resources or waste, these can be easily recycled on-site. For example, surplus wood can be turned into mulch and used on walkways, gardens, etc. Also, depending on the material, building and construction companies may be able to sell this to recyclers/salvagers and offset some of the construction costs.
With the 'green' movement only expected to go from strength to strength, an increasing amount of building design and construction companies are hopping aboard to meet the associated demand.
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