• Green Cities 2014

    18 July 2014

    Green Cities is Australia’s premier sustainability event for the built environment.

    Sponsored by Lend Lease and co-hosted by the Green Building Council of Australia and Property Council of Australia, the Green Cities 2014 conference delivered an exciting program based on the theme, Beyond the Baseline.

    Image-975Australia’s largest and most influential conference on sustainability in the built environment, Green Cities 2014, held at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne once again brought together world-leading sustainability specialists and innovators for discussion and debate.

    Widely regarded as an annual “must attend” by environmentally conscious industry players, the rising stars of Australia’s sustainability industry originally gathered for the first conference in Sydney in February 2007. At the time, just 26 building projects around the nation had achieved Green Star ratings and each and every project was a commercial office. There were no Green Star-rated schools, hospitals, apartments, factories, libraries or community centres. Not one Green Star-rated building had been designed or constructed away from the Eastern Seaboard and only two projects had achieved 6 Star rating.

    Green Star ‘World Leadership’ status

    Fast forward seven years and nearly 700 building projects in Australia have achieved Green Star ratings, and 20 per cent of city office space is now Green Star-rated. Hundreds of buildings, from restaurants to retirement living villages, and from hotels to hospitals, are gaining Green Star certification each year.

    Image-81 (Kent Larson)

    Director and principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Kent Larson

    Highlights of the 2014 conference included keynote presentation by director and principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Kent Larson on Cities of Tomorrow. Larson shared his work on everything from stackable, electric cars to tiny, tardis-like apartments. In his opening speech, Larson told the audience “Cities are for people, not machines.” He inspired with urban interventions that can create ‘microcities’ where 80 per cent of everything we need is within 20 minutes’ walk; where alternatives to the car are convenient, affordable and even pleasurable; where vertical agriculture delivers high-quality produce; where micro apartments are liveable, affordable and fun; and where people can “live large in a small footprint”.Sustainability strategies were the overarching themes for presentations by four industry leaders who revealed the secrets behind their companies’ success, whilst also examining the issue of how to shift sustainability from a technical to a strategic business decision. Speakers included ISPT CEO Daryl Browning, Hickory Group joint managing director, Michael Argyrou, Lend Lease COO, Dan Labbad and Mirvac CEO Susan Lloy-Hurwitz.

    In an Australian context, conference delegates heard how the people of Newcastle, the Sunshine Coast, Karratha, Melbourne and Ipswich are investing in regeneration projects to create jobs, reduce environmental impacts and improve the liveability of their communities.

    As Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, said: “At a time when we are worried about job security, the 1200 Buildings retrofit program has created an uplift of 8,000 high-value, high-skill jobs, and about $2 billion in economic activity.” The timely launch of the new Green Star – Communities Guide for Local Government also gives councils the knowledge, resources and benchmarks they need to place sustainability front-and-centre.

    One thing that was patently clear at Green Cities 2014 was that the mood has shifted and organisations are taking sustainability to heart in relation to their businesses – not only because it makes business sense, but because it’s better for people. For sustainability specialists, the current challenge is to “take our technical conversation around green buildings and link it to people” as CEO of the World Green Building Council Jane Henley said.

    Additional highlights of Green Cities 2014 included a session on “Putting a Price Tag on Performance”. Leaders from the UK, Singapore and South African green building councils, as well as the WorldGBC, explored how we measure and monetise the previously unmeasurable – staff satisfaction, performance and health and expanded the business case for green building. Also of particular interest was the “Talking ‘bout regeneration” session revealing the massive opportunities for retrofitting existing buildings and outstanding case studies cited from around the globe. Speakers included Lend Lease EMEA (UK) head of sustainability Pascal Mittermaier, US EcoDistricts program director Adam Beck, AECOM CEO of Buildings and Places, Sean Chiao, Swedish GBC and WSP Sustainable Cities director Ann-Kristin Karlsson.Image-669

    Hong Kong GBC to Host WorldGBC Congress in 2015

    The World Green Building Council recently announced that the 2015 Congress will be hosted by the Hong Kong Green Building Council from 28 to 30 October. The Congress will be held alongside the HKGBC’s green building conference at which government officials, industry stakeholders and academia come together to share knowledge and insights on policy planning, urban design, industry technologies, and relevant research.

    The 2015 conference will be held under the theme, “Urban Density,” and will serve as a platform for knowledge exchange on affordable housing, neighbourhood development, rating tools development, transportation and urban planning, transit oriented development, the sustainable countryside, and diversity in social and cultural aspects. The WorldGBC Congress is an ideal opportunity for leaders of the green building movement to connect, strategise and learn from each other.

    “The work of the Hong Kong GBC is helping to show that sustainable building has a central role to play in creating a better future for all, and we are proud to be hosting our Congress with them in 2015,” said Jane Henley, WorldGBC CEO.


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