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Going Green: Developments in Victorian venue centres

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What is Green Star?

Green Star is an environmental rating system that evaluates the environmental design and construction of buildings. It is a voluntary system which involves a project using the Green Star rating tool of the Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) to guide its design or construction process.

Up to six ‘stars’ can be awarded by the GBCA, signifying a level of environmentally sustainable design and construction that can range from ‘best practice’, to ‘Australian excellence’, to ‘World Leadership’.

While 11 per cent of commercial office buildings in Australian cities are Green Star certified, only a small number of these have received a 6 Star Status. Only one convention centre in Australia, and indeed the world, has managed to achieve this: the Melbourne Convention Centre (MCC).

Achieving 6 Green Stars

Karen Jamal from the GBCA explains that the Green Star – Convention Centre Design Pilot rating tool was funded by the Victorian Department of Major Projects and piloted on the Victorian Government’s construction of the Melbourne Convention Centre.

The tool was developed with the goal of evaluating the environmental initiatives and the potential environmental impact of buildings intended for civic, theatrical, social, political, religious, entertainment, recreational or sporting purposes.

It was recognised that these building types played a significant part in the global consumption of resources, and are often large spaces with high design conditions and high levels of variability.

The MCC was awarded a 6 Star Rating by the GBCA through their Convention Centre Design Pilot tool, which was created specifically to rate the MCC. This rating demonstrates ‘world leadership’ and recognises that the MCC set a new global standard for convention centre design.

The Centre was awarded points for innovation, in recognition of its pioneering use of chilled floor slabs and displacement ventilation, as well as the installation of a black-water treatment plant in a large public building. Points were also awarded for driving product innovation in the supply of new sustainably harvested, timber-veneered board.

The future of green venue centres

As the Convention Centre Design rating tool was issued in a ‘pilot’ phase, Jamal explains that GBCA made the decision to incorporate elements of it into a more general Public Buildings rating tool. She adds that there is more demand in communities for buildings which are available for other types of public use, such as offices, retail centres, schools and hospitals.

While the MCC remains the only convention centre in Australia to achieve a 6 Star Rating, Jamal does foresee further developments of green venue centres in the future. She says that the completion of the Public Buildings rating tool will provide guidelines for venue centres to develop to an environmentally sustainable standard.

The Public Buildings rating tool is due for release later in 2010, and the GBCA encourages relevant feedback to assist in its development.

“Victoria is proudly home to arguably the greenest convention centre in the world, demonstrating that our state, and indeed Australia, is leading the way in green building,” Chair of the GBCA Tony Arnel said.

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