As one of the largest industries in the world, construction has an equally significant impact on the environment. From the extraction and transportation of raw materials to energy consumption and waste generated during the build, this impact grows each year, as our communities and needs do too.

The commercial building sector alone is deemed responsible for around 25% of overall electricity use and 10% of total carbon emissions in Australia.*

So how do we measure the impact of our work? And how do we reduce this impact on our climate, its health and continue to drive resiliency in the buildings, fit-outs and communities we build?

Amongst other tools, partnerships, and policies, we use Green Star Ratings; a comprehensive and completely voluntary certification system that measures the sustainability of buildings and fitouts. The Green Star Rating system serves as a guide for McCormack from design and construction through to our management practices and ultimately it helps us formally achieve our clients’ sustainability targets.

As change agents, they consider factors such as materials, energy, management, and indoor environment quality. It was founded by the Green Building Council of Australia in 2003 and has become an internationally recognised standard for creating healthy, resilient, and positive buildings and communities.

 

Green Star Experts

We sat down with Nicky Karim, Design Director of Studio 103, to discuss the critical role that sustainable materials selection plays in Green Star projects. “Encouraging materials that are low impact and locally sourced wherever possible is essential for reducing the environmental impact of construction projects,” she said.

Sure, sustainable practices take a little more effort, and some thinking in the early stages.  Constantly updated to fulfil the latest requirements and best practises, adopting Green Star’s guidelines doesn’t mean a business has to stop because of environmental measures; the future only continues if mutually beneficial relationships are maintained. “It sometimes requires more work than a typical process, but the long-term impact is worth it. The strategies we apply in the services design aid the principle that energy is consumed efficiently and can provide massive savings for asset owners and inhabitants in the near future,” says Kristopher Cabanela, Design Manager at McCormack.

Kristine Davison, our Senior Project Manager, sheds light on the process of a recent Green Star-rated project at 101 Collins Street, currently in its design stages. One of the things that help drive such a project’s sustainability outcomes is getting involved early and considering the various impacts, as detailed in Green Star’s categories and credits**;

  • impact of the design and the materials we select and use, whether it is through innovative technology;
  • the energy consumption during the build as well as efficiency of the development once it is in use;
  • reduction of transport dependences, whether it is sourcing local materials or partnering with carbon-controlled transport options;
  • planning for a healthy indoor environment quality that can reduce the use of external heating and cooling requirements;
  • planning the usage of land in line with conservation and ecology best practices while minimising the impact on native flora and fauna;
  • encouraging the re-use, recycling, and reduction of portable water during the build and for ongoing efficiency of the building; and
  • how we provide encouragement and rewards to our team and our contractors as they adopt the practices and processes throughout the lifecycle of the project .

“It isn’t any one thing we do that will help us acquire the necessary certification and benefit the project outcome. Every detail; the materials used, the technology deployed, the drive of our partners and suppliers through to diligent best practice in planning, design, construction, and ongoing operation, that will be the key.”– Kristine Davison, Senior Project Manager at McCormack.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Green Star Ratings mean for designing and constructing interior fitouts, check out this great reference page from the Green Building Council of Australia.

With over five decades under our belt, we see the value in a healthy, green future. We also understand that the environment and the sustainability efforts of our industry require action on all levels.

*Energy.gov.au  / ** Green Star – Design and construction of fitouts