Sustainability superstars

Australian property companies are streets ahead when it comes to sustainability – and Canberra has the green landmarks to prove it.

The 2014 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey was launched this week, finding that Australian companies outpaced their international peers in all aspects of sustainability.

In cooperation with a large group of institutional investors, GRESB collects information on the sustainability performance of property companies and funds, analysing data from 56,000 buildings worth AUD $2.3 trillion.

This year, the survey found that 70 per cent of Australia’s property companies fall into the top quadrant for commitment to sustainability – GRESB calls them ‘Green Stars’.  In comparison, 35 per cent of European companies, and 32 per cent of North American and Asian companies were named Green Stars.

The report also celebrates two Australian companies as ‘global green leaders’: ISPT and Lend Lease. 

Why should Canberrans care about this? Because this global leadership is delivering better, greener buildings in our city.

ISPT’s careful restoration of 2 National Circuit in Barton has preserved one of the grand old dames of our city’s architecture, and elevated it to sustainability superstardom. The building, that was once the Patent’s Office and is now the RM Hope Building, was rewarded with the 2013 ACT Development of the Year. In fact, National Circuit is lined with sustainable office space. 

Lend Lease’s work on the Harry Seidler-designed Edmund Barton Building has ensured it meets the contemporary requirements of a modern office, while driving down carbon emissions, reducing energy and water use and limiting waste. 

These are just two examples – but serve as reminders that our office buildings are more than repositories for partitions and cubicles. They are places where many Canberrans spend their working week. They leave a mark on our landscape, and contribute to the aesthetics, atmosphere and carbon footprint of our city.

This investment in sustainability is being recognised around the world, it’s also paying environmental dividends, providing more secure returns to investors and helping us to create a Canberra for the 21st century.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia