Ecologically Sustainable Development

Article: Green Building, Leadership & Action

Title: ESD Ecologically Sustainable Development

Date: January 2009

Author: Geoffrey Gourley
Green Star Accredited Professional
Sustainability Leader


It is very encouraging to see the property sector within Australia understanding and addressing the serious climate change crisis; we have begun a paradigm shift in how design, construction and property development in this country is undertaken.

But why is change not happening fast enough? Leadership and greater action is required.

We are living well beyond the capacity of the planets resources, which at some stage, will run out. We have already seen a shift in how we use water, how we value eco system services, we now understand how we impact the environment through construction, development and building operations.

As professionals, our industry is leading from the front; we are incorporating renewable energy solutions in future developments and now have in excess of 76 Green Star certified projects completed.

Head contractors, like ‘Hansen Yuncken’, who have delivered landmark Green Star projects VS1 Adelaide Water, Council House 2, 60L, K2 Housing, Kangan Batman Tafe, are at the cutting edge of sustainable building practices.

There has been an increase in the number of projects undertaken where ‘Green Star Rating’ is to be achieved; indictors show this will continue to be an element toward a paradigm shift in the industry.

We have made a difference, but our reduction in contributing substantial GHG to the atmosphere is not happening fast enough.

The United Nations Environment Programme’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics estimates the built environment’s lifespan contribution to global CO2 emission is approximately forty per cent.

In Australia, the Green Building Council’s research indicates that commercial buildings alone contribute 8.8 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions.

There is huge potential for the building and property sector to play an important role in reducing emissions.

As an intelligent group of companies and individuals we can use the smartest people in the smartest ways, by adopting frontier technologies methods and efficiencies, working towards substantial emission reductions is possible.

We want change; we need to ensure a healthy and sustainable planet is here for future generations by adopting a paradigm shift, and with the right leadership we can do it better.

What is the sustainable pathway for future generations looking like?, as Australia continues to grow we see further development happening around us, simple developments are becoming Ecologically Sustainable Developments, a greater number of residential and commercial projects, in particular offices, are gaining Green Star ratings and the number of Green Star Accredited Professionals continue to become greater with every course delivered by Green Building Council of Australia. These are positive indications.

Our experiences over the last 5-6 years has provided the foundation for a rapid increase in projects aiming for, and achieving 4, 5 & 6 star Green Star ratings, not too mention the increase in ‘green collar’ jobs directly associated with design, consultancy and contracting companies.
Planning guidelines and formation, through community and industry consultation, of visions for future ‘green cities’ is well underway. A number of global sustainability initiatives are starting to be developed and adopted here in Australia.
Central Services Hubs are one element which is being considered as part of future developments; in nominated suburbs like Dandenong in Melbourne’s East and Docklands precinct on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD, ‘CSH’ are being developed to provide renewable energy options like Tri-Generation combined with black water and grey water treatment plants, these can be connected to all buildings within the development precinct.
The benefits of a more sustainable approach is significant, without doubt, it has to be the approach we take in all future developments. We need to consider and adopt visions and aim to achieve far greater, sustainable outcomes for the property sector and the planet.
By remaining committed to solid ESD principals, through government, industry and private collaboration we will see Australia become the world leader in green building, our attitude and behavior towards development will be one of ecological sustainability, creating eco-cities with strategic views to maximise utilisation of space.

We need more stringent sustainable planning directions that consider and value the land on which we build. Through holistic planning and development of integrated, sustainable towns, cities and urban centre’s we can assist Australia regain its local community identity. From less urban boundary growth, higher levels of mixed use and infill developments, I see inner urban and regional hubs connected in every way.

The health of our society and communities will be improved with the integration of ecologically planned outdoor public space and purposeful general amenity formed as part of master planned developments.

Creating a pathway to a sustainable, zero net emissions Australia can be achieved by building “green” economic vitality in the property sector. Through promoting sustainable developments and continuing to research and adopt innovative design practices, manage our building operations better and by building ‘green’ we will see moves towards a more sustainable Australia.

Strong leadership is needed, collaborative approaches are required, companies within the property industry need to respond better to climate change and respond now. I encourage you to play an active part and get involved through associations, groups and industry bodies. Can we ensure the sustainable future of our industry and the planet, Yes we can.


Geoffrey Gourley
0434 185 933