Health and Aged Care Sectors Now Eligible for Green Star Recognition

 
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has recently released Green Star certification tools for healthcare and multi unit residential developments.  This represents a valuable opportunity for developers and operators to maximise the benefits derived from energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives (including lower operating costs) and achieve high profile recognition and certification in the process.   
 
What is Green Star?
 
Green Star is a comprehensive, national, voluntary environmental rating system that evaluates the environmental design and construction of buildings.  The Green Star certification system has had extraordinary success in the commercial sector (the original Green Star certification tool), with 11% of CBD commercial office buildings across Australia now Green Star certified.
 
What does Green Star certification involve?
 
Green Star certification has effectively created a common language of sustainable development standards and in many sectors of the market certification is now synonymous with lower operating costs, enhanced marketability, productivity benefits, greater tenant attraction and potentially a higher return on investment.
 
Broadly, Green Star certification assesses and rates the environmental impact of a building as a direct consequence of site selection, design, construction and maintenance practices.  Areas considered in the assessment include levels of greenhouse gas emissions and energy use and efficiency (such as lighting, HVAC systems and alternative energy sources such as the use of solar panels), water use (reduction of potable water through efficient design, water re-use and utilisation of rainwater), materials (selections of sustainable core building materials), land use (discouraging degradation of flora and fauna) and transport (reduction of demand for use of individual cars).    
    
What types of developments are eligible?
 
Buildings with the following mix of gross floor area are eligible for participation in the healthcare rating certification process:
 
  • a minimum of 80% of BCA Class 9a (health-care building), 9c (aged care building), 8 (laboratory/goods production) and 5 (office); and
  • a minimum of 50% of BCA Class 9a (health-care building) or 9c (aged care building).  
Accordingly, many aged care facilities are likely to be eligible for participation in the Healthcare rating tool certification process.
 
Buildings with 2 or more residential units and with a minimum of 80% of the building’s gross floor area comprised of any combination of BCA Class 2 and 1a are eligible for participation in the multi unit residential rating certification process (which may include developments primarily comprising independent living units).
 
The GBCA is presently developing a customised process to consider developments that may not be eligible under the healthcare or multi unit residential tools (which may include some mixed use developments, including those that comprise a mix of aged care facilities and independent living units) and work with developers to tailor a rating tool to suit the specific characteristics of the development.  This will allow those developments to participate in the Green Star certification process using a hybrid rating tool.  
 
The introduction of healthcare and multi unit residential categories represents a valuable opportunity for developers and operators to participate in the Green Star certification scheme and achieve well recognised certification for a commitment to sustainable design and building practices while maximising the returns on energy efficient and sustainable building and design practices through lower operating costs.
 
What you need to do
 
Achieving a Green Star rating requires a collaborative effort between all members of the project team, early planning at the outset of the project and a detailed understanding of what is required to obtain credits under the certification process.
 
Tailored contracting arrangements covering key legal issues are also critical to the success of a Green Star project (including construction contracts, project management and other consultancy agreements).  Gadens Lawyers has extensive experience in drafting and implementing innovative contracting solutions in Green Star developments.
 
This publication is provided to clients and correspondents for their information on a complimentary basis. It represents a brief summary of the law applicable as at the date of publication and should not be relied on as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant laws.
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This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.