Within the global green building family, if one likens the US and the Australian Green Building Councils to siblings, Green Star and LEED can be viewed as cousins. While sharing much of the same conceptual “genome,” they are appropriately different because they have “grown up” in different “families” and reflect unique sets of aspirations, influences, and constraints.
Established in 2002, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is a dynamic not-for-profit organisation that is uniquely supported by all sectors of the industry (including Australia's largest and most influential building owners, developers, and contractors), as well as all levels of government, academia, and non-government (NGO) organisations. The GBCA was created with a mission to transition the property industry towards sustainability and drive the uptake of green building practices across Australia. The GBCA achieves this, and grows a strong green platform to support both the local and international green building movement, through its environmental rating system for buildings, Green Star, as well as through its educational and knowledge-transfer activities, advocacy work, and research.
Green Star is a voluntary tool aimed at the top 25% of the market, with the aim of influencing the rest of the market to incorporate green into standard practice. Like LEED, Green Star recognises and rewards leadership and sets a common definition of green for Australia across a level playing field and a comprehensive set of environmental criteria. In doing so, Green Star marries a strong scientific basis with a simplicity that everyone can understand and use. As a result, the property industry receives a robust benchmark against which to reduce the environmental impact of buildings and to achieve real cost savings, as well as to improve occupant health and productivity.
As a national rating tool, Green Star enables buildings to be comparable Australia-wide and provides consistency in green building standards. Also, due to the similarities between Green Star and other international rating systems, international comparisons can be drawn.
Like any mature product of a complex environmental, political and socioeconomic context, the market leverage, technical rigor, integrity, and long-term viability of Green Star are rapidly attracting the attention of the international green building community. This article explores Green Star as a successful context-bred market solution for industry transformation, and draws comparisons with its international counterpart, LEED.