Reflecting on 100 Green Stars

6 Mar 2017

‘One hundred’ is one of those auspicious numbers that for some reason prompts us to pause and take stock. We divide our history into hundreds; we receive letters from the Queen when we turn 100; even sports coaches set challenges around the number 100. And so, hardwired with a fascination for all things ‘100’, I found myself reflecting on Lendlease Building’s recent delivery of its 100th Green Star building.

We crossed this significant threshold at the end of 2016 with the certification of our engineered timber commercial building at Barangaroo, International House. We have since delivered our 101st green building at 888 Collins Street, in Melbourne’s Victoria Harbour development... and number 102 is just around the corner.

Added to all the buildings Lendlease has had certified across nine countries, we have currently delivered 11.5 million square metres of certified space – the equivalent of 618 Sydney Cricket Grounds.

So what does all this mean?  What has it changed?

I remember well our first Green Star certification.  It is etched deeply in my mind as it coincided with the birth of my second child, Will.  Like my son, Green Star was new to the world.  When we decided to target Australia’s first ever Green Star rating for 30 The Bond in Sydney, none of us knew what that journey might mean for us or the industry.  

In the 13 years it has taken for us to secure 100 certifications, we have all seen Green Star drive the normalisation of many areas of sustainability excellence and lift the performance of more than one thousand buildings in Australia.  In the commercial sector for example, it has elevated factors such as energy efficiency and indoor air quality from an aspiration to an expectation.  
But what might we hope has changed by the time we reach our next 100 certifications? If our first century of certifications has helped embed sound sustainability design principles, what’s next?

I have three hopes.

The first is that the lessons of 100 Green Star certifications spread to be accepted practice across all sectors, particularly in smaller and medium-scale real estate where there is enormous potential to improve quality of life and carbon footprint.  I hope in 100 certifications’ time, schools, three-story walk up apartments, aged care facilities and basic medium-scale commercial stock all boast the basics of sound, sustainable design.

My second hope is that the growing attention to wellbeing flourishes and that we use our next 100 certifications to create spaces that lift our wellbeing and delight our senses.  We spend too long inside for the experience to be anything less.

And my last hope is that we become bolder and radically change the face of built form to be restorative – to give more than it takes.  I hope the building that secures our 200th certification creates more habitat than it consumes, cleans air rather than limits toxins, alleviates rather than exacerbates climate change and can be happily deconstructed and reconstructed to suit another 200 years of changing needs. 

It might sound a long way off, but as I have seen with my son, a lot can happen in 13 years.