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What next for green buildings?

I attended the Green Building Council’s “Shaping the Future State” conference yesterday.  It was a mix of long form presentations and panels, and was hosted at ANZ’s 6 star building – but to be honest it was just another auditorium and we didn’t see any of the good green stuff.

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This blog has a few thoughts on what was discussed and where the green building industry is going.  

1. There is hope!

There is a lot of good stuff happening – across a range of sectors and scales, and I got the impression that there is real hope that we can transform our approach to building and cities and we can tackle climate change. 

We heard from Stefan Hajkowicz (CSIRO) on global megatrends (i.e. the future of tech, artificial intelligence, managing disease, food production etc).  I heard a lot of good news stories related to the way different industries are adapting and innovating. And your coffee barista is unlikely to be replaced by a robot!

Also we heard how there are some amazing projects in design and build right now.  I heard about Monash Uni microgrids, City of Greater Dandenong’s Springfield redevelopment, Broofield's innovative stadium designs and flexible buildings, andYounghusband development – which hey I like as Wave is working on it!

2. Carbon, carbon, carbon – what about everything else?

There is a huge focus on carbon and emissions. That is good and bad. Other issues were mentioned – biofuels for transport and green infrastructure – but there remains a huge focus on the carbon story.  In simple terms – a Green Star building has credits spread across 9 different categories – of which only one is about energy.  So green buildings and sustainable design are about a lot more than just energy.  Personally, I’d like to see more integration with water, landscapes, and increased awareness that waste is a huge part of an ecological footprint. 

This broader perspective is partly why at Wave we are in the middle of designing and building some small physical models which test and explore this interaction between green infrastructure, water and energy. 

3. New policy and codes

There are two new discussion papers, on the way or out now, from GBCA: Carbon Positive Roadmap and ‘Building with Nature’.  GBCA have also worked with Smart Cities Council Australia and NZ to release a Code for Smart Communities.  They all look pretty worthwhile and worthy reading.

See https://new.gbca.org.au/advocacy/thought-Leadership/ and https://anz.smartcitiescouncil.com/smart-cities-information-center/code-for-smart-communities

I look forward to next year's conference.