10th March 2017 |

All new buildings must be emissions-neutral by 2030 and all existing buildings by 2050 if Australia is to meet its climate change targets according to t

he Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) with industry feedback encouraged, according to the Council.

Chief Executive Officer Romilly Madew says the GBCA is developing a new ‘Carbon Positive Roadmap’ in close consultation with industry to drive carbon positive buildings and communities.

The GBCA has launched a discussion paper at the Green Cities 2017 conference in Sydney.

The GBCA has outlined four key priorities for the initiative:

  1. promoting energy efficiency through passive design and efficient systems

  2. driving investment in resilient, renewable energy infrastructure

  3. increasing markets for net zero carbon products, materials and services

  4. promoting offsets for remaining emissions.

The discussion paper outlines how the built environment can help Australia meet its greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, and asks for industry feedback.

“More than 170 nations – including Australia – have agreed to limit global temperature rises to less than 2˚C, and to strive towards global temperature rises of no more than 1.5˚C,” Ms Madew says.

“As the built environment is responsible for 23 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse emissions, the property and construction industry has a central role to play in meeting these targets.

“We are working with the 1.5˚C target, and this means that all new buildings must be net zero emissions by 2030, and all existing buildings must be net zero emissions by 2050.

“The discussion paper asks industry what this means for Green Star buildings – and especially for world-leadership Green Star buildings.”

“We believe this approach will be a cost-effective pathway for buildings and portfolios, and will also achieve other positive outcomes for Australia – such as efficient, comfortable and healthy buildings, energy security and a thriving renewable energy industry, jobs growth in emerging sectors, and enhanced biodiversity.”

Stockland General Manager Sustainability, Davina Rooney, said the Carbon Positive Roadmap was a natural next step for the industry.

“Our industry has a strong-track record delivering sustainable buildings and precincts, and now has the world’s most sustainable market according to the Global Real Estate Sustainable Benchmark. We have demonstrated how carbon reduction strategies can reduce costs, boost health and wellbeing of building occupants and enhance the value of assets. This Carbon Positive Roadmap is a natural next step, providing clear pathways to carbon neutrality and creating new value for building owners, occupants and the broader community,” said Ms Rooney.

Frasers Property Australia General Manager Sustainability Paolo Bevilacqua said the roadmap would assist the industry in taking action.

“The GBCA has strong networks with industry and government, respected rating tools and a history of delivering positive outcomes for the built environment, and is in a position to gain consensus on industry action. A Carbon Positive Roadmap will help industry to take action, address current barriers and drive a carbon positive future,” said Ms Bevilacqua.

Geoff Dutaillis, Group Head of Sustainability at Lendlease, said: “Large-scale ‘climate positive’ developments like Barangaroo South in Sydney and Elephant & Castle in London are using innovation, technology and collaboration to demonstrate that the built environment can play a leading role in delivering real action on climate change and the transition to a carbon-neutral future. The GBCA provides a united voice for our industry in addressing material issues such as this, through providing practical tools such as the draft Carbon Positive Roadmap to enable us to unlock the value of buildings.”

“While this discussion paper puts forward our ideas, feedback from industry is mission critical. It is only by working together that we will achieve a carbon positive future,” Ms Madew said.

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13th December 2016 | Category: Architecture, Construction, Features, Inspirational Urban Design, New Developments, Opinion, People, QLD, Residential, Sustainability, Top Stories, Town Planning | Staff Writer

By David Jessup, Studio Director, Hayball Brisbane

Most of Australia’s multi-residential property developers are in competition to make theirs the biggest and most eye-catching design on the market, with the aim of capturing the attention of buyers and investors alike. But in Queensland, an understated design revolution is afoot. The ethos? To let properties speak for themselves.

The right material for the right climate

As a consequence of our country’s natural diversity, each state has its own cultural and environmental peculiarities which inevitably affect architectural projects. When it comes to climate, however, Queensland has a bit of everything to offer: sub-tropical and coastal, dry heat in the west and rainy season in the north.

Queensland’s sub-tropical environment is home to a vast array of lush foliage and vibrant plant life. With natural inspiration in abundance, it’s crucial to take a leaf out of the landscape’s books when it comes to building design.

A property in such an environment should be authentic in its use of natural materials, and celebrated for its street-level presence and its impact on the lifestyles of those who use it, as much as for its striking façade.

Chester and Ella in Newstead, a soon-to-be-built residential development, takes this emphasis on authenticity in its stride, with chiseled facades bringing texture and movement to the streetscape and breaking down the mass of the buildings.

The weather conditions a building will be exposed to directly impact the choice of materials used to construct it. For example, timber can become warped and shrunken when exposed to extreme heat.

It’s also a hygroscopic material, meaning it absorbs water from the air around it, so can expand when used in a humid environment. In contrast, the environment found in coastal areas, with its heat, salt-water spray, and winds can enable timber structures to fade in colour and age gracefully.

Making a conscious decision to choose materials which work with the local environment not only ensures structural stability, but enables the property to adapt to its locality and develop a character which is congruous with the landscape.

Responding to the landscape

However, it’s equally important to consider the external environment when designing the street-level from which passers-by will view the building and residents will enter their home. In one of Hayball’s multi-residential projects currently underway in Brisbane, a primary consideration was how the residential tower would connect with the ground plane.

We have included elements such as tropical landscaped gardens and an entry space which is a naturally ventilated semi outdoor room loggia. Unlike common residential buildings, these elements reflect the sub-tropical environment in which the building will stand.

The climate must also be considered when it comes to designing a building, to ensure it reflects the lifestyles of those who will use the space. In Brisbane more than in our other major cities, versatile outdoor living space in multi-residential buildings is vital.

Balconies must be large enough to accommodate outdoor furniture, which enables people to dine outside, and roof space should be maximised, with landscaped rooftop gardens, catering facilities such as barbecues, and ample space for communal entertaining.

Given the extreme temperatures, the building should be designed in a way that allows for natural shade to be cast over any outdoor living space.

Future-proofing design with quality

For a building to become a seamless part of the locality and its community, it needs to express core principles of design which respond to its context. This is both in the social, built form and climatic context.

Designing a building to be able to meet the lifestyle needs of those who will use it over time will not just ensure it remains aesthetically pleasing, but it will also reduce the amount of maintenance a property needs over time.

In order to benefit current and future users of a space, a new building should be timeless, reflective of its environment and of the highest quality.

From the street level to the rooftop view, and the design of individual apartments within the building, residential buildings in Queensland need to be able to naturally and effectively respond to their environment to truly become a part of their community.

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Sustainability, Health and Property Values – Why Australia Needs Greener Cities

Australia’s population growth is being felt in our cities, but are we adequately prepared for the future of high-density living?

Higher density urban living has become a primary concern for urban planners, who grapple with issues such as infrastructure development, traffic management and housing solutions. But beyond these physical concerns, there are a number of very real human issues that also need to be addressed by planners as well as developers and architects.

For all of its benefits, city living isolates people from the natural world, and new research is finding that this isolation affects the wellbeing of urbanites. With some clever design thinking, however, we can create cities that are more sustainable and offer a higher quality of life.

As cities grow, it’s easy for green spaces to become an afterthought in the planning process. This is not just the case in public spaces, but also in the development of residential and commercial projects.

Many city councils now have limited regulations in place specifying how much green space a new building should deliver, but going above and beyond this will have a positive impact on the environment, wellbeing of residents, the liveability of the property and its resale value.

In the last week alone there has been a great deal of public discussion over the design of apartment buildings in Brisbane, after research by Associate Professor Rosemary Kennedy from QUT’s Design Lab found that many new developments are too hot for the city’s sub-tropical climate.

Due to the excessive heat generated from their glass facades, these building require a higher amount of air-conditioning for temperature regulation.

“One of my major concerns is that we’re not designing our buildings using good design; we’re using electricity to solve design problems,” she said in an interview with ABC News.

She believes that as buyers become aware of these design issues, resale prices will suffer and tenant turnover rates will increase.

Building our cities without any regard for climate regulation contributes to the urban heat island effect, which negatively impacts the liveability of a city. This effect occurs when building materials such as concrete, glass and bitumen absorb and hold on to heat and, as a result, increase the temperature of a city.

By incorporating plants into buildings through rooftop gardens or green walls, however, we can begin to offset this effect and cool the structure, in turn reducing the need for air-conditioning.

Parkroyal on Pickering, Singapore

If we were to create enough green spaces to cool Australia’s cities by eight degrees, it is estimated that the reduced use of air-conditioning alone will lower carbon emissions by 12–15 percent each year.

Integrating plants into city buildings is also an effective way to absorb stormwater runoff and reduce the noise levels experienced within office and apartment buildings.

These benefits are in addition to the well-known role trees play in filtering the air by soaking pollutants. So what seems like a simple element of city design can have a big impact on sustainable living and the practicality of a building.

It’s not just the environment that benefits from the practice of biophilic design – human health and mental wellbeing improves too. A recent 2009 Dutch study found that those who live less than 1km from green space had lower incidence of 15 diseases including depression, heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

Here at home, 83 percent of Australians relate relaxation and time out with green spaces, and 73 percent see their garden as a place to improve their mental wellbeing.

It is believed that this inherently positive association with nature lowers stress and anxiety levels, contributing to improved mental and physical wellbeing. Given this association, buyers are willing to pay more for a feeling of connection with nature.

Larger balconies, park views, access to rooftop gardens and even natural lighting in the home are all considerations buyers take seriously when seeking out urban dwellings.

Developments such as One Central Park (pictured below) and M Central (pictured above) in Sydney showcase what is possible when a green mindset is applied to property development.

One Central Park, Sydney

Not only do these buildings address sustainability concerns, they also provide greater amenity for residents and elevate the visual appeal of their respective neighbourhoods.

So as we start to consider how to best deliver high density living in Australia, will buildings like these continue to be isolated case studies or will they become the norm?

Carolynn Brooks is the co-founder of The Small Garden, a Brisbane-based design practice that specialises in creating green urban spaces that connect people with nature. With a belief that green spaces are essential for happiness, wellbeing and the health of our cities, The Small Garden shares their passion with the world through an Instagram account that boasts over 20,000 followers.

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