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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

100th Green building certification

Speech
Stockland Head Office, Sydney
16 April 2009

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Thank you Tony.

I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this lang, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.

It is a pleasure to be here in Sydney today in this impressive building.

We are reminded that Sydney is a place with a rich history — from the time of early European settlement, this city has evolved from a maritime hub to a thriving, modern urban centre - a city of great physical beauty, culture, commerce and regional importance.

And the layers of this history are inscribed in the buildings around us.

Walking not far from here, towards Circular Quay, there are pockets of Sydney's earlier history.

In some places, you can imagine how the city was before the high rises of the CBD.

You can imagine how it was before those great feats of modern engineering and architecture, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House — icons of our built environment that define Sydney and Australia on the world stage.

These are all layers of our city, and today we celebrate another layer, with the certification of the 100th Green Star rated building — part of the evolution to a greener, more sustainable city.

I would like to congratulate Stockland on the investment to make its work environment more sustainable and energy efficient.

In particular, I recognise the leadership of Managing Director Matthew Quinn, Commercial Property CEO John Schroder and their teams in showcasing sustainability excellence through the Stockland Sydney Head Office.

This is the first AUstralian office interior to achieve the 6-star Green rating - signifying ‘World Leadership'.

Refurbishing an existing building to this standard is far harder than creating a new green building.

And it's worth asking - when this is what can be achieved through a retrofit, why should we expect any less from new buildings, where energy efficiency can be built-in from the ground up?

This is the 100th Green Star project to be certified since 2002.

As you know, Green Star is a world leading system that rewards innovation and environmental excellence.

That's why today's 100th certification is an historic occasion for the built environment in Australia.

I congratulate the outstanding work of the Green Building Council of Australia as champions of sustainability in our commercial building sector, particularly the leadership of Tony Arnel and Romilly Madew within the industry.

In these tough economic times, sustainability remains critically important.

As corporate budgets get tighter, there is a strong business case for investing in cost-effective sustainability initiatives that will benefit the environment, improve staff morale and productivity, and save businesses money.

At this time in our economic history, we have an opportunity to make investments that both support jobs now and help build the low-pollution industries of the future, and this is very much the case in the commercial building sector.

The commercial building sector's energy use is posited to be responsible for at least 10 per cent of our carbon pollution — and by some measures, it's more.

This is a significant contribution and it also represents a significant opportunity for actions that benefit jobs now and benefit the environment for years to come.

The Government is currently developing and consulting with industry on new measures to inspire the evolution of greener cities and buildings, both residential and commercial.

We are working with the state and territory governments to develop a national mandatory disclosure scheme for commercial building energy efficiency.

This scheme will first be introduced in large commercial office buildings — like this one — providing purchasers and lessees with the ability to choose a building based on its actual energy efficiency and operating costs.

We are keen to work with industry to develop this scheme and have undertaken significant consultation in recent months.

At present, the average energy rating under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS), formerly ABGR, for commercial buildings is 2.5 stars on a 5 star system.

A national mandatory disclosure Scheme will increase the demand for energy efficient commercial buildings, raising the average NABERS energy rating, stimulating green jobs and bringing savings to businesses.

We recognise that the two commercial building rating systems in Australia, Green Star and NABERS, both have important roles to play in transforming the market for green buildings.

Recent research conducted by the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering has reaffirmed the importance of rating tools.

The Warren Centre's Low Energy High Rise project, which received significant funding from the Australian Government and was also supported by Stockland, found that public reporting of energy and water performance ratings positively correlates with improved performance.

The study also said:

“[T]here is potential for most buildings to achieve a 4-star NABERS Energy base building rating with only limited recourse to major technical refurbishment, which corresponds to a performance improvement of approximately 30 per cent for an average building.

Extrapolated across the CBD office building sector, this would be equivalent to a 1.2 per cent reduction in Australia's total emissions.” 1

That is a significant finding, and it's reinforced by the other benefits of commercial building energy efficiency like increased productivity, morale and health of the workforce.

Just looking around at the natural light and the sunny dispositions here at ‘Stockhome', you can see these benefits at work.

The Australian Government recognises that access to capital is subject to competing business priorities – even when investments are clearly cost-effective and even in the best economic conditions.

That's why we established the $90 million Green Building Fund, helping to catalyse improvements in the energy efficiency of office buildings, and to date, the response has been very positive.

So we do recognise that a transformation in commercial building energy efficiency will require Government leadership and support, but it also requires champions from within the commercial building sector.

Again, today is about recognising the leadership of two of those champions - Stockland and the Green Building Council of Australia.

I encourage all businesses to follow their example, to create more workspaces like Stockland Sydney Head Office, and to make sure the 100th Green Star certification is the one of many, many more to come.

Thank you.

References

www.warren.usyd.edu.au/LEHR/LEHR%20Research%20Survery%20Report%20Ver%205.2.pdf , page 9

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