Top 10 Tips for achieving Green Star Communities certification

Green Star – Communities” is Australia’s most recognised sustainability rating tool for neighbourhoods and precincts.

To obtain a rating for a project, evidence must be submitted demonstrating that the project has been designed to be very sustainable. Preparing a submission can take many hours over a few months; however, there are steps you can take to make that much easier.

Re-certification can also be a tedious process if you don’t start early.

As an independent private Assessor for the Green Building Council of Australia, I review project multiple submissions each year. Several of them have struggled to specifically address some of the credit criteria and do not get credit were they could have.

To make it easier for everyone to plan for or attempt a Green Star Communities rating, I have listed my top 10 tips for making Green Star easy. I hope this helps. Remember that if you need a hand with evaluating green rating tool benefits or preparing a submission, feel free to contact Ecomplish:

1.Start with a sustainability strategy and plan and design holistically: Green Star shouldn’t be used first, as it is a rating tool which rewards best-practice, not a design methodology.  So, start with the site and the audience in mind and aim high. Create a Vision, then Principles to support that. Then document the strategy and an action plan to ensure the vision will be achieved. Then, if the project has achieved some best-practices and you can list evidence about them, a Green Star rating will come very easily. For example, if recycling water makes sense across the precinct because water is scarce, and it will be cost effective etc, then plan for that early on and show it in the design. Avoid leaving this too late and ensure the metrics demonstrate how much potable water it will save. Similarly, if you think residents will value a centralised garden, put that in a central location and claim the ‘Local Food Production’ credit point, rather than trying to retrofit it in a poor location years down the track.

2. Start early: By planning early, you can ensure your sustainability strategy will be considered from feasibility to design through to construction and operation. Preferably start this before the site is purchased or at least at concept planning stage. Too many people try to attempt a rating after the Development Application (Permit) has been submitted. This means if the tool reminds the project to consider smarter methods or design innovations, it is too late to update the overall design. For example, if you haven’t arranged for three independent qualified town planners/urban designers to review your site, layout and urban design and incorporated their feedback, then you’ll miss out on some great advice and improvement opportunities, and miss out on being able to claim 8 points in the Green Star Communities design review category, and that is a lot of points! I have seen multiple projects where the review workshops are started too late in the design process or use unqualified people.

3.Experience Counts: Have someone with previous Green Star Communities submission experience on the team. Having a Green Star Accredited Professional (GSAP) is helpful, but many GSAPs do not have Green Star Communities experience or documentation preparation experience. Using someone with substantial experience with the tool will save your project many hours (I estimate savings of 30% to 60%, which could equate to $30,000 to $60,000 and other benefits such as tailored innovations). Green Star submission administration can take a long time, especially if you don’t know the tricks of the trade. Such people also often come with a wealth of sustainable design experience and are well connected, so they can help the project in multiple ways. Having a GSAP on the team and coordinating Green Star before the planning or design starts will also ensure you can achieve the first point in the rating tool.

4. Submit Smart: only submit what the Guidelines require. If you submit hundreds of pages of documentation it makes it harder to find the exact part that will achieve the credit, and it annoys the Assessor. At the start and end of a drafting a submission, go to the Documentation Requirements of the credits you are targeting, and ensure you’ve documented that.

5. Queries: if you are not sure about something ask another GSAP or the GBCA. They are there to help. They may recommend submitting a Credit Interpretation Request (CIR) which can then be reviewed in advance of your submission being assessed. If it is approved, you already know it is likely that the Assessor will be able to approve it too. In other words, don’t submit proposals or suggest alternative methods in your submission, as the Assessors can only use the Guidelines (rules) to assess your evidence. If you cannot meet the Guidelines but believe you can meet the intent of a credit a different way, then get that confirmed by the GBCA early on and it will save you a lot of time and reduce the unknowns.

6. Use experienced sustainability consultants to suggest innovations appropriate for your project. If they are unique, they are more likely to be approved. There are 10 Innovation points permitted under the system so there is no reason why your project shouldn’t be able to obtain many of these points, which will reduce the pressure for the project to achieve other (perhaps harder) credit criteria. Also check to ensure your idea is new to Australia or the world. If you can find other instances of it already in place then the Assessor won’t be able to award the point(s) for it and you would have wasted time generating the evidence for the claim.

7. Evaluate credit options constantly. Use a tool to track each and compare them: Once you have completed your draft concept, list all the credit you think it could achieve. Rule out harder ones. Estimate the costs and benefits of each initiative and then you will have a better idea of which ones would be better for your project to target. Remember however that Green Star is not a decision making or planning too, so always keep the vision and principles of your project at the fore. 

8. Make the submission easy to assess. By completing the submission template fully and highlighting the exact text in the evidence that shows the criteria is met, you will be showing yourself and the assessor you know the points should be awarded for that credit. If you make the assessor’s task more difficult by putting in superfluous documentation or not providing exactly what the Documentation Requirements need, then they will need to scrutinise each credit even more thoroughly. Poor credit documentation also means they will have to review all the credits, rather than use the staged approach where only some credits are reviewed. The staged approach means that, if the first 20 or so of credit documentation is near perfect, then the other credit documentation may be only skimmed, and the rating achieved (and much more quickly and easily).

9. Document management: set up an electronic documentation repository that can be accessed by all design team members. Also add an area where any team member or consultant/contractor can add evidence any time. This might be a shared Dropbox, OneDrive or GoogleDrive. Create folders for each credit and place an index at the top. Also create and keep a Green Star tracker spreadsheet in this folder, with the constant status of each credit e.g. 60% chance of achieving 19.2 Skills Development Programs, through X. Naturally, plan regularly monthly meetings to recap on where each credit is at. In between meetings, the GSAP should be ensuring all people with the task to achieve particular credits are also preparing the evidence for the submission as they go, in the right format.

10. Learn from other projects: have a look at the numerous existing Green Star Communities and learn from their lessons. Did their centralised battery storage system work? Are their residents using the car spaces at the community centre or would that money have been better spent elsewhere? How did they approach rain water collection? Some of this information is available publically and it is a shame to waste such valuable experience. After all, they may have already copied ideas you had on your last project too. Indeed, we can only move forward as industry leaders if we keep aiming to outperform, for the benefit of the residents who will live in our leading sustainable communities.

For more advice or assistance, feel free to call us any time.

The Green Star Communities guidelines are available from the Green Building Council of Australia.

Hyundai’s new IONIQ Car in Australia – details and review

Information for Ecovillage residents and other interested parties:

Update 23 January 2019:

The demo car has arrived and I’ve test driven it. My notes are: The real range is likely to be less than the 280km claimed which is not really far enough for me. Its modern and like the i30 inside. Not a lot of boot space. The headroom in the back will be a bit tight if you are over 194cm tall. It drives well and I love the lack of gear changes and the ability to quickly change the level of regenerative braking. It has some great technology and a superior safety rating. Worth a test drive.

Update 4 December 2019:

Pricing is here  https://www.caradvice.com.au/706363/2019-hyundai-ioniq-pricing-specs/

2019 Hyundai Ioniq pricing – approx. ($AUD)

  • Hybrid Elite – $33,990
  • Hybrid Premium – $38,990
  • Plug-in Elite – $40,990
  • Plug-in Premium – $45,490
  • Electric Elite – $44,990
  • Electric Premium – $48,990

+ on road costs.

Introduction

The new IONIQ Hyundai is due to arrive on the Gold Coast in Australia in late December 2018, all going well with the transportation into Australia.

However its claimed maximum range is 280km so if you need more, consider the Kona (due in early 2019 into Australia) or the Kia Niro (due mid-late 2019) as these have much more battery power and hence range. The Niro has a bit more head room too. See https://myelectriccar.com.au/kia-niro-ev/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEE9Ogzj1O8

What I’ve been able to ascertain, beyond the information available on the car review websites, is below:

The IONIQ will come in 5 standard colours, pictured here:

  • Black Noir Pearl
  • Summit Gray
  • Symphony Air Silver
  • Electric Blue Metallic
  • Ceramic White

It comes in three variants, the Hybrid version (recharges off the braking etc), Electric (electric and petrol with an electric range of about 50km) and the pure EV IONIQ with just a battery, powering an estimated class-leading maximum range of 280km. Fuel consumption figures are a claimed 3.9L/100km for the hybrid and as low as 3.4L/100km for the plug-in hybrid. Zero (0) litres of course, for the pure electric version, which is powered through a cable in your garage, and possibly your local shopping centre or hotel. If you go 100% electric, it uses the CCS charging standard and is able to be slow, fast, and rapid charged from most public points. Slow charging typically requires a 3-pin-to-Type 2 cable, and fast charging a Type 2-to-Type 2 cable. Hyundai have partnered with Jet Charge who will install the connection in your garage. The Jet Charge website shows public charge points in Australia – there are about 25 on the gold coast. I believe the cost of a full Home EV Charging installation is additional to the cost of the car do don’t forget to budget about $1000 to $2500 for it (every house is different). The car is about the same size and width as an i30 but with much greater storage capacity (it must be taller), so it has ample legroom.

More information about the car is here:

https://www.carsales.com.au/editorial/details/hyundai-ioniq-2018-review-111718/

https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-reviews/hyundai-ioniq-68139

https://www.caradvice.com.au/videos/2018-hyundai-ioniq-review-hyundais-hybrid-hope/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woL85dQ3Asw

Friends

If you are a friend and interested in purchasing one of these cars, please contact me as I am liaising with the Sales Manager on the Gold Coast to purchase some IONIQs, possibly with a discount. Please note that as this is a brand-new model and they will be rare for a while, so they are not able to give significant discounts.

 

More information will be added to this website as it comes in.

Disclaimer: the information above has been sourced from a variety of places and may not be correct now or in the future. To confirm details, I recommend you contact your local dealer.

Loving Hearts a Queensland Winner

Loving Hearts childcare centre constructed by Jorgensens, has taken out the Queensland Master Builder’s Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Management Award. Ecomplish was proud to be involved in the project, conducting the first feasibility study in 2015, then managing the sustainable design. We are also engaged to manage the centre’s sustainable operational performance, to ensure the building is optimised and continually delivering as predicted. The project is now eligible for the National Australian Award on November 24:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jorgensens:

Sustainable Living Focus Groups

This year, Ecomplish has been working with a major residential developer to conduct ‘innovation’ focus groups and test a new concept in sustainable living, in three capital cities.

Stay tuned for more information on the potential new premium offering, as the results come in..

Loving Hearts childcare wins Master Builder’s award

Congratulations to Jorgensens Builders for winning the Master Builders Queensland Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Management award – Gold Coast.  Ecomplish was proud to be involved as the sustainability manager on the project, which is arguably the most sustainable childcare centre in Australia.

It’s time to dream: planning a new ecovillage in Victoria “Little Springs Village”

Keynote speaker Ben O’Callaghan presented to a full room of 70 residents at Huon Hill on Wednesday night about a visionary grass-roots ecovillage project called Little Springs Village in Wodonga, Victoria. Ben also took the audience through several interesting statistics on Currumbin Ecovillage in Queensland, the most awarded residential estate in Australia. The event was covered by The Border Mail the next day.

A small group of long-time Leneva (Victoria, Australia) friends started taking steps to plan the project after touring Currumbin Ecovillage and falling in love with its vision, community facilities and design. Project Coordinator Kyleigh Andrews opened the event and invited feedback from the attendees and the wider community, so that it could be designed by the community, for the community. The Little Springs Village project is visionary as it aims to deliver several innovations in a peri-urban setting, unique to the area, such as:

  • a place for farmers to retire, where they can still lead agriculture in fertile gardens surrounding their homes
  • a place for families and those interested in sharing resources, to save on time and money
  • infrastructure to support collaboration, health and sharing including a pool, gym, storage spaces and library
  • designs support the synergies between younger and older generations using cohousing and ecovillage principles
  • a variety of high quality shared equipment such as bikes, tools, trailers, baby strollers, machinery and a variety of share cars
  • the highest levels of environmentally sustainable building
  • a demonstration project that the local Council can use to promote best practice urban design and educate others
  • Ecomplish has been engaged to provide professional advice on the planning and sustainable design of the strategic project.

A new sustainable community for Yeppoon Queensland

Local residents and landholders on the coast of Queensland have employed Ben O’Callaghan of Ecomplish to provide professional advice on the planning and design of a new sustainable community. The site is amazing and will provide produce for residents on the fertile soils, near Yeppoon’s coastline, the gateway to the famous Great Keppel Island. Is Yeppoon the Gold Coast of the north?

We cannot say any more right now, but standby for more information as this exciting project evolves!

New Childcare centre awarded first EnviroDevelopment certification

Loving Hearts Child Care Centre and Kindergarten has been awarded Australia’s first UDIA EnviroDevelopment rating for a child care centre, demonstrating its industry-leading credentials.

Loving Hearts has been designed and constructed to set a new benchmark in sustainable childcare centre design, construction and operation for Australia.

It is arguably Australia’s most sustainable childcare centre, with over eco-friendly 42 features, many never found in a childcare centre before. For a full list of these features in a PDF file, click here.

The Loving Hearts centre sets a new benchmark for childcare centres, in an industry sector which has been left behind over the years and suffers greatly from poor design and little time, knowledge or resource to make improvements. Its features also add to the sustainable education experiences available for the children at the centre.” said Ecomplish Sustainability Consultant, Ben O’Callaghan who was the first professional to join the project team in 2015. Ben is still involved operationally, to ensure the sustainability features are paying for themselves.

Vision

The owner of the centre set a highly commendable and self-imposed sustainability vision before the start of the project:

 “To demonstrate nation-leading Childcare Centre sustainable design and operations for the benefit of the whole community and future generations”

The Vision goes well beyond all minimum levels of compliance required by government legislation and will significantly exceed all energy and water efficiency benchmarks for centres of a similar size according to the Ecomplish who were employed to manage the centre’s sustainable design. Ben from Ecomplish also now conducts sustainable operations monitoring and sustainability training for staff.

 The commendable vision was set to:

  1. Demonstrate the benefits of sustainable childcare centre design to the rest of Australian childcare centre owners and operators i.e. become a case study and example of best practice design and operation for others to repeat and learn from.
  2. Reduce the impact on the environment of the materials, construction and on-going utility requirements of the centre, for the benefit of the centre, the wider community.
  3. Significantly reduce the greenhouse gas impacts and toxicity, compared to standard childcare centre buildings, which typically perform poorly because for their sub-standard design and capital-cost focused designs.
  4. Benefit the children, parents and staff who would use the centre, by ensuring higher air quality through the use of safer materials, enhanced daylight and reduced costs for families.

The centre is a great exemplar and reminder exceptional sustainable design can only result from a holistic approach to design and a careful combination of smart sustainability initiatives.

The building was completed by local builders and childcare centre experts, Jorgensens and the design was undertaken by Cyber Drafting & Design in conjunction with other specialists, including dsquared.

Photo (right to left): UDIA CEO Kirsty Chessher-Brown awards Loving Hearts Managers Jenn and Sandy with the EnviroDevelopment certification.

Photos gratefully provided by Alice Nelson.

 

 

 

We need more affordable living, instead of affordable housing

“For too long Governments have focused on funding affordable living, meaning many Australian’s have been left in ‘affordable housing’ apartments with high utility costs. This results from poor design, because developers of affordable housing are not incentivised to focus on passive solar design and reduce heating and cooling costs, whilst increasing things like daylight and natural airflow. Instead, many build cheaply to maximise returns which leaves those who can least afford high on-going building costs with years of expensive bills to pay.” said Ben O’Callaghan some 8 years ago and now Government is starting to listen.

By focusing on long-term affordable living solutions, more can be achieved than focusing primarily on mechanisms to decrease housing capital costs, which is the focus of many affordable housing policies. To help move the industry forward, affordable living solutions of various forms (including requirements for better design) should be also be a focus, instead of merely affordable housing.

The affordable living approach is more holistic and ensures that people can access housing that is so well designed that it enables occupants to experience much lower operational costs, in energy, water and health expenses. For example, solar energy, water efficiency measures and more natural daylight, which can combat depression, or using non-toxic materials to avoid illnesses related to off-gassing materials. Currently the future cost burden is passed on to occupants, as sub-par design makes it almost impossible to reduce utility costs, because orientation, insulation levels and window types etc were poorly considered and are fixed once constructed. The other side effect of poor design is that housing stock needs to be replaced substantially more often which will only accelerate with future changes in climate.

Designers like Smart Urban Villages are planning to provide affordable living solutions, not capital-cost focused affordable housing. The ACT Government is also now considering innovative policies to target the missing-middle through their Housing Choices initiative and specifically their demonstration housing project.

Gold Gold Gold… The Science Place achieves momentous LEED certification

After three years of planning, design and construction, the James Cook University Science building called The Science Place has achieved a highly-prized green building rating.

The LEED® Gold Certification is the first LEED rating of any level, for a new building in Queensland. The certification also shows The Science Place has become one of the world’s highest performing and sustainable university science buildings.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world.

The design and construction team applied holistic ecologically sustainable design principles to ensure the building performs well, all year round.

Internationally recognised architects, Hassell Studio, and James Cook University engaged leading sustainability consultants Ecomplish Sustainability and dsquared to provide sustainability services for the whole project. This ensured the sustainability was considered throughout and the building could achieve its high echelons. The very energy and water efficient building will allow the university to minimise costs whilst providing extremely comfortable science and engineering facilities to researchers and students.

Here is a list of its features.

QUT stage 1 demolition completed

Stage 1 of the Education Precinct building in Kelvin Grove in Brisbane has been completed. Builder Hansen Yuncken are about to commence the structural construction works. The design successfully achieved its 5 Star ‘Green Star’ design rating from the GBCA by leveraging the rating tool experience of dsquared and Ecomplish Sustainability, who have also worked on similar projects for JCU and Hassell.

The $75 million building has been designed by a team lead by Wilson Architects and Scandinavian firm Henning Larsen Architects. For more information contact us or visit: www.wilsonarchitects.com.au/qut-education-precinct/

 

Ecomplish congratulates Lend Lease on MBA Builders Project of the Year AWARD

Congratulations to Lend Lease on their MBA Builders Project of the Year MAJOR AWARD – The James Cook University ‘The Science Place.  Completed in March 2017, The Science Place is an $80 million teaching and learning facility which now promotes the sciences and collocates the JCU science community on Townsville Campus to foster interdisciplinary interactions.  Ecomplish has also worked on the project for the last 3 years as the Sustainable Design Consultant with dsquared.

RealEstate.com.au interviews Ben O’Callaghan to create a video

Today, RealEstate.com.au featured Yagoi100, the house with over 100 sustainable design features. In it, Ecomplish Director Ben O’Callaghan explains how the smart combination of key design features can enhance residential quality of life and the local environment, whilst almost eliminating all his utility bills.

To view the short video or photos see: www.realestate.com.au/lifestyle/community-living-is-easy-at-currumbin-ecovillage/

Ken Long and Ben O’Callaghan present in Brisbane

DSquared ESD Consultant Ken Long and Ben O’Callaghan presented on sustainability challenges and successes this afternoon in Brisbane at Green Star rated 480 Queen Street building built by Grocon. The Green Building Day was sponsored by Interface Carpets, Big Ass Fans and the GBCA, and what a great event it was.  Keynote speaker Ian Dunlop gave compelling reasons why we all need to act quickly on climate change and the huge opportunities in the property sector, given its emissions.

 

 

Ben also gave an update on Smart Urban Villages, which is driving a new form of practical and more affordable sustainable community living.

Ben O’Callaghan invited speaker at GBCA Green Building Day 2017

Ecomplish Director Ben O’Callaghan has been invited by Green Building Council of Australia CEO Romilly Madew, to present at this year’s Green Building Day in Brisbane on 21 June. More

Building commences for Loving Hearts Centre

Construction of the Piggabeen Road childcare centre called Loving Hearts has just commenced.

Ecomplish has been the sustainability advisor on the project since 2015.

Ecomplish conducted a feasibility study and set the sustainability targets for the project. The project is on track to deliver the nation’s most sustainable early learning education facility.

More 

Sustainable development and design ecovillage tour

Today Ecomplish provided a professional sustainability tour to a group of executives from Satterley, Australia’s largest privately owned land developer based in Perth. They found it invaluable and we are finding more people making the trip over from W.A. to find out how Australia’s most awarded estate, The Ecovillage at Currumbin has succeeded and failed over the past 10 years of its young life. Others to have attended professional tours this year include Sustainable Settlements W.A, Silkwood, Villa World, Channel 9 and groups from South Korea, South Africa, New Zealand and Japan. Star Entertainment came as well, as they are looking to use tools like Green Star Performance to reduce their environmental impacts whilst being more efficient to save on costs.

International Design Conference talk by Ben O’Callaghan

Dean Landy kindly presented Ben with a copy of his new book, Creating Vibrant Communities, printed just hours earlier, after hearing Ben’s presentation at the 9th International Urban Design Conference in Canberra last week.

Smart Urban Villages was founded precisely because it wants to see such elements becoming the norm for urban living.” Ben said.

Dean’s book will be available for purchase from 17 November 2016 via: http://creatingvibrantcommunities.com

Childcare Sustainability Assessments Completed

Ecomplibris-childcare225sh have recently completed building sustainability assessments for multiple sites in south east Queensland. Over 60 opportunities were identified, which will improve the buildings and their operations; these are set to save the owners over 20% on their electricity bills alone.

How to save money on utility bills through sustainable design

ripley valley sustainabilityEcomplish Director Ben O’Callaghan provides sustainable design and living advice to Queensland Ripley Valley residents in the latest version of the Sekisui House Ripley Today newspaper.