When investing in property, it is very important to stay abreast of the latest trends for design and construction of residential property. One area that has begun to take on more prominence in recent years relates to environmental ratings of buildings. In 2002 the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) was established as a not for profit organisation to encourage sustainable building practices nationally.
The GBCA established the Green Star rating system and provides guidelines, best practices and tools to the building industry for achieving certification of environmentally friendly designs and construction methodologies. The formal review process produces a rating of 4, 5 or 6 for buildings that measures and quantifies their overall environmental impact and energy efficiency.
At present the Green Star rating system in Australia is a voluntary industry backed initiative. There is international collaboration happening all the time between the GBCA and similar bodies overseas. In various municipalities across the United States, similar ratings systems to the Green Star ratings are becoming mandatory for all new buildings and in the UK, government funding is being made available for property owners to retrofit their buildings to adhere to local ratings systems.
The building and construction industry is a significant producer of waste to landfill sites with estimates ranging as high as 40% of all materials deposited. The energy footprint of the buildings we live and work in is also high. Almost 9% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings and they consume 40% of all energy produced.
At a time when a wide portion of the Australian public is aware of the need to curb greenhouse emissions and reduce waste, Green Star buildings are worth considering and taking note of as an investor. Off the plan apartment buildings that have a higher Green Star rating can be a positive marketing point with younger, more environmentally conscious tenants. Interestingly, more energy efficient buildings have a natural upside as they often have lower electricity bills due their inherently strong design. Again, the possibility of lower power bills is a very positive selling point with prospective tenants.
Buildings that are certified with a Green Star rating are not only more energy efficient and sustainable, but they are also proving to be healthier living environments. As more of us blur the lines between home and work, having a healthier environment is very important and something that is popular with potential tenants. Proper lighting with better air circulation are not just great for when you work at home, but obviously it makes for an all around better living space.
As mentioned, the Green Star rating system is still voluntary. While there is no mandatory regulation in place yet here in Australia, it is worth noting the Green Star rating of any potential off the plan apartment you may be considering when investing in property. If you are a socially conscious investor and you want to ensure that you are buying an investment property that meets your own standards than having the Green Star rating standards in place will give you something to look out for when you’re talking to developers.