How the Australian commercial sector is leading the world in sustainability

When Martin Ritchie set a net carbon emissions target at GPT Group’s 18 buildings in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane late last year, there were some who made fun of the idea.

Many thought it was too ambitious; Most thought it was just impossible. However, when it was achieved well before the due date in what was considered a world first, it proved both a challenge to competitors and an inspiration to the entire commercial development and management industry.

“I think we’ve all done all we could in our personal lives with solar panels in the home and recycling, but they can have a much bigger impact on mitigating climate change in the workplace,” said Ritchie, fund manager at GPT Wholesale Office Fund.

“It was important for us to ask how and at what cost we can achieve CO2 neutrality. And we have now proven that it is economically viable by increasing our energy efficiency, buying renewable energies and at the same time stimulating the energy market. “

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GPT saved more than $ 210 million in energy bills and 1.5 million tons of CO2 than it would have spent and produced if they had been working as usual from 2005, and is now the pin-up kid in a world that strives to make their advertising assets as sustainable as possible.

A global leader in sustainability

Along the way, the company has also been hailed as a beacon of Australia’s progress in an area where we previously founded the company just also-rans.

“Using companies like GPT as an example, we are not only talking about sustainability, we are clearly doing it,” said Davina Rooney, CEO of Australia’s Green Building Council. “It’s a smart business with better returns, better value for money, and people who stay with companies longer in these buildings.

“The commercial sector in Australia has grown to become a global leader in sustainability in so many indices. We see people pledging to develop their portfolio to net zero by 2030. Over 25 groups are now committed . “

GPT’s Queen and Collins building in Melbourne.

Mirvac and Lendlease are also leaders in this area, believes Branco Miletic, editor of Architecture & Design, which awards the country’s national sustainability awards.

We started from a very low base maybe five to ten years ago, he says, but now we’re moving forward by leaps and bounds. “From a commercial perspective, Australia is increasingly becoming a leader in sustainability,” said Miletic.

“We are now at least on an equal footing with others and quite a leader in a global sense.”

Australia’s building of the future

The kind of buildings that got us there and propel us into the future are Sydney’s Barangaroo by Lendlease – 6-star Green Star rating and the first climate-neutral district in Australia – and Brisbane’s 25 King, currently Australia’s tallest wooden building .

As part of the renovation of the Brisbane Showgrounds in Bowen Hills, valued at 2.9 billion US dollars, the wooden tower is nine stories high and is made of cross laminated timber and glued laminated timber with a much smaller carbon footprint than conventional concrete and steel.

Aurecon-25-King-Street-Brisbane2_jitevrBrisbane’s 25 King is the tallest wooden building in Australia.

It was developed by Aurecon who is also the main tenant of the collaboration with Lendlease and architects Bates Smart. “There are a number of reasons we wanted to be part of it,” said Aurecon Australasian sustainability leader Quentin Jackson.

“Of course, we wanted to reduce the impact on the planet, use fewer resources, commit to carbon neutrality and create a holistic place that increases the health, wellbeing and productivity of tenants.

“We wanted people to leave this building healthier than when they arrived.”

Last year, 25 King, with features like rainwater harvesting and reuse, in addition to the 6-star Green Star design and As Built rating, received the first WELL Core and Shell certification at the platinum level in Queensland.

Sustainable offices

However, Atlassian’s future headquarters are set to dwarf this building with the proposal to erect a wooden tower, which at 40 floors and 180 meters will be the tallest hybrid wooden building in the world. It will accommodate 4,000 employees in the new Tech Central at Sydney Central Station and has also been signed for the Green Building Council’s revised Green Star rating system.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have such a large wooden structure with a net zero claim,” said Ms. Rooney. “We are absolutely thrilled that we will be working with them to make this happen.”

atlassian-sydney-centralA render of Atlassian’s new headquarters in Sydney. Photo: Delivered

In Melbourne, ISPT’s redevelopment of 500 Bourke Street with NAB as the anchor tenant is also seen as an outstanding feature of Australian sustainability. Its design has been awarded a five-star Green Star design rating, a 4.5-star NABERS energy rating (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) and a six-star indoor-indoor rating.

Nearby are the two 15 and 39-level office towers proposed by GPT at 51 Flinders Lane with gardens, a wellness center and the latest technology to ensure energy efficiency. Additionally, Queen and Collins, the former ANZ global headquarters, are in the final stages of a $ 240 million refurbishment.

In addition to developing greener buildings and renovating old buildings to meet new goals, many are also working to use office space as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“When looking at a workplace from a sustainable standpoint, the biggest and most important factor is the space it takes,” said Henry Wagner, vice president of marketing for OfficeMaps, an interactive app that tracks office space usage. “If you have more space than you need, climbing and lighting the air conditioner can be a very expensive exercise, and it is a waste of energy.

“We now know that flexible working will be retained. With this system, employees can find out how much space is actually required in the new hybrid work model. You can then reduce your carbon footprint. So much carbon can be saved if people don’t travel to work every day, and they can book office space when they walk in. “

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