The Green Star Rating and its value to business

The Green Star Rating is a certification from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), that has been designed to help promote sustainable practices in the building industry and operational sustainability in built environments. Importantly, GBCA’s rating system is not solely focused on sustainable construction, although how a building is constructed has specific categories in the Green Star Rating system.

The rating system has a strong commitment to the ongoing management and operation of buildings in a sustainable way. This is important when considering the impact the built environment has on carbon emissions, and the effect of the operation of the built environment on the health of people.

Why do we need sustainability in our built environments?

According to studies into building sustainability, the ongoing operation of the global built environment contributed to 27% of global emissions. This figure is even higher than the emissions from the construction industry of new buildings (20%).

Additionally, there have been countless studies on the negative impact of the office environment on workers who spend long hours inside corporate buildings.

It’s no wonder that corporate sustainability is fast becoming a key element to a businesses’ sustainability credentials. Greening, energy conservation and sustainability has been promoted in residential housing for more than a decade, and now house buyers highly value sustainable homes.

It’s not difficult to imagine that this shift will happen in our corporate worlds. Already there are headlines where employees and customers are demanding more of a focus on sustainability. This expectation from stakeholders has led to greenwashing, where the corporate world is promoting its sustainability credentials.

The demand for sustainability and a lack of accountability for sustainability has given rise to programs such as the Green Star Rating system. It provides guidelines which are independently verified before someone can earn the rating.

Green Star Rating and corporate sustainability

Green Star Rating is a certification that has arisen out of a demand from customers and employees of businesses to become more environmentally responsible.  But what does that mean?  GBCA has created four categories to assess the environmental performances of the built environment in the corporate world.

The four categories are;

Green Star – Communities

The trend for development companies across Australia is to build city-style large projects that are built with development rules or covenants for residential builders, and/or have multi-use developments.  A developer will often include retail space, commercial/office space, community space, facilities such as schools, childcare and even hospitals as part of a development.  

GBCA recognised this trend in development and the importance of having broad sustainability guidelines, so created a category for sustainable community design.

Green Star Building – Design and As Built

This category is targeting the construction industry which makes up more than 20% of global emissions. It’s at the design and construction stage that the greatest leaps in sustainability can be made in our built environment. GBCA recognised this by creating this category. However, new buildings make up only about 2% of total built environments each year. That’s why these last two categories are so important in promoting corporate sustainability.

Green Star – Interiors

This category and rating tool is for new fit outs. The recommendations and regulations of this category aim for businesses to develop sustainable space for workers in confined office and commercial spaces, through interior design and internal construction.

Green Star – Performance

This category is the most relevant for commercial spaces looking to develop more sustainable practices through its operations, including adding green space. The Green Star Rating system provides guidelines and pathways for existing buildings to incorporate sustainability practices in their operations.

There are nine key criteria assessing the sustainability of operations. These criteria are management, energy use, transport, water, materials (waste management), land use and ecology, emissions, innovation, and indoor environment quality.

Creating green space helps to meet the criteria of indoor environment quality, because green space in communal areas and on desks improves workers psychological well being, air quality and reduces noise. The natural feel also helps to create calm.

According to GBCA, including indoor environment quality in the Green Star rating system improves an occupant’s experience of the space and contributes to their wellbeing. It also helps to deliver a better company image.

A recent study into the top things a company can do to make employee’s lifestyles sustainable was to green rooftops and create vertical gardens in the office.

At The Frenchams Group, we design and build green space through assessing the traffic, space and light conditions of the commercial space. Our aim is to create a green space that has the greatest impact on the built environment. We have decades of experience in horticulture and indoor plant systems, small and large.

We can also develop green space that meets the recommendations of the Green Star Rating system. So you don’t have to be an expert in operational sustainability, you just need to know its importance for the future of your business. Then engage us to make a workplace environment that will increase productivity and attract new employees.

How earning a Green Star Rating helps your business?

A Green Star Rating is more than just an opportunity for a company to greenwash its operations, because the rating system is independently assessed and the criteria is based on sustainability fundamentals.

Earning a Green Star Rating can offer some significant benefits to businesses.  The first is giving a business the reputation as socially responsible.

The second is employees’ expectations are changing and value working in an environment that embraces a healthy lifestyle, and they want to work for companies that values sustainability and are socially responsible.  Recent surveys of office workers across Asia and the Pacific has revealed that more than 50% of workers would prefer to work for a company that valued and operated using sustainability principles.

Promoting your sustainability credential through the Green Star Rating system will help to attract workers and is important when vying for workers in a competitive labour market.

Increase appeal thought creating green space

Although creating green space in your office offers a lot of benefits with health and productivity of your workforce, it’s not core to your businesses.  There is no use using green space to increase productivity, when that extra productivity is being used in creating and maintaining green space.

That’s where a professional plantscape company such as Frenchams can help.  Frenchams has decades of experience in developing greenspace for all types of business and offices so you can make the most of your space without a lot of time and energy wasted in doing it yourself.  

One of GBCA’s Green Star categories in the star rating system is for internal fit-outs.  The association has identified some of the benefits of earning Green Star Rating for fitouts, including productivity gains (higher return on investment, attracts tenants, time and resource efficiency and environmental benefits) and sustainable reputation gains (market recognition) . We have already discussed why promoting sustainability can benefit your business, but it’s worth revisiting why creating green space is valuable.

Green space in an office will give direct and immediate benefit in the built environment.  Firstly, green space will improve air quality.  Secondly, green space helps to reduce noise in the office.  Thirdly it will promote psychological wellbeing of workers.

GBCA has recognised the value by making it an important indicator of corporate responsibility.

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