08/10/2008 - 22:00

Sustainable design awareness rising

08/10/2008 - 22:00

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INCREASED requirements on energy efficiency and water use are expected to fuel the growth in green buildings for commercial and residential developments.

Sustainable design awareness rising

INCREASED requirements on energy efficiency and water use are expected to fuel the growth in green buildings for commercial and residential developments.

In the residential space, Western Australian companies including Gentra, Solar Dwellings, Evoke Design Group, and Greenedge Projects are focused on sustainable design.

Solar Dwellings senior consultant Sandii Rogers, the 2008 Green Star professional of the year, has noticed an increased awareness of sustainable design by consumers and developers.

"There is a cultural shift happening; more and more people are aware and are now actually doing something about it," Ms Rogers said.

She believes the growth in demand has come across the board.

"I've seen a cultural shift that started kicking in around 2004, but after An Inconvenient Truth was released it was really clear," she said.

"But a cultural shift is only good if people are actually doing things. And I have noticed that people are wanting to do something and realise it's an investment."

Ms Rogers said the rise in electricity prices as a result of a carbon price would make people more conscious of energy costs, and encourage sustainable design.

She acknowledges there is a fair amount of 'greenwashing' in the green building materials market. To ensure accuracy, she consults Australian website Ecospecifier, a knowledge base of more than 3,500 eco-products and materials, to check a product's credentials.

Managing director of commercial and residential sustainable design firm Environs Design Group, Ken Bezant, said much of the push towards sustainable design was coming from the demand side.

"We're finding now that most commercial buildings are leased, and people that are leasing are looking for sustainable developments; we're generally finding that they're getting better returns if they have a good sustainability rating," he said.

"Particularly government, whether its federal, state or local, when they're leasing they won't lease anything under a five-star rating, and if you turn your back on that market you'll be very limited."

While built environment emissions were left out of the government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme green paper, the sector is responsible for 23 per cent of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions.

The Green Building Council of Australia believes buildings represent the single largest source of cost-effective greenhouse gas abatement.

In its submission to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme green paper, the council said energy savings in the building sector could reduce the costs of GHG abatement across the whole economy by $30 per tonne, or 14 per cent, by 2050.

WA has traditionally trailed other states in the adoption of green design, with this state housing only two Green Star certified commercial developments out of 89 Australia-wide. These include167 Westralia Plaza, the first WA project to gain Green Star certification, and Bishops See Stage 1.

Other proposed green commercial developments include Stockland's Durack Centre, while the mixed-use North Port Quay development is aiming to be carbon neutral.

In the residential space, the Alkimos development is also aiming for carbon neutral status, Greenedge Projects is planning an eco village in Chidlow, and Cedar Woods is planning an eco village in Canning Vale.

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