Beyond Star Ratings for Building Design

The NABERS issue paper and current discussion is telling of 2 as yet unnamed
facts. See http://www.nabers.com.au/page.aspx?cid=705&site=1

Firstly, It is now 20 years since the NSW Government first introduced the
environmental agenda to the property industry in promising “the greenest games
ever”. It started a flurry of activity, some innovative, some questioning, some
concerns. Yet the government was committed and achieved a pioneering result.
Pioneering, only to the extent that it was not the normal daily activity.
“There was not much new in this,” cited many of the learned folk I spoke to at
the time. They reminisced of 20 years earlier of something called the 70’s and
an energy crisis.

Not all the initiatives stuck. NABERS did. It was voluntary. It was useful.

After the games, some the newly energised property professions sought to
capture the moment with adopting Leeds aka Green Buildings. (ask hungry jacks
how that position shift to down under works)

So back to today.

Two facts stand load and clear to me in the light of star rated buildings, and
the plethora of discussion on precincts:

  1. That engineers have tweaked their offer as far as they can in reselling
    themselves. Old machines of the late 20th century are now a smidgen more
    greener, and they can do no more with their skills for buildings of
    significance.
  2. That developers have achieved as much as they can without compromising their
    commercial drivers, and consumption is what they are primarily selling, not
    savings.

    So hence the pursuit offsite to the supply side.

    To blame the NABERS program for not portraying cogen or precincts in a positive
    light, is merely a below the line act. A dummy spit. NABERS is not a marketing
    tool. Even if the commercial world now has found it has huge pulling power in
    leasing and performance management. This is merely a commercial overlay to
    emissions reductions, and is the only lens that the O’Farrell government can
    currently see.

    The issue paper does however, set the ground rules to go forward.

    When green star is primarily a marketing tool, in my view it strives for
    product differentiation exceptionally well in controlling a market perception.
    But not in environmental benefit. A green badge is noble, but it is still a
    dinasourous product. (nice word! Its new.)

    I’d like to ask, were the environmental targets for building design ever
    ambitious enough in the last 20 years or are we yet to start this discovery?

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