• The Glacier Group

Sustainability in the Built Environment

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

"By 2050 the urban population will double its current size, nearly 70 out of every 100 people in the world will live in cities" - The World Bank Group.

It is a fact, urban development is directly related to climate change, population growth and development are leading to increasing levels of energy use, reducing air quality and releasing global warming gases into our atmosphere. It has also been predicted by The World Bank Group that by 2030, climate change and natural disasters may cost cities worldwide $314 billion each year and push 77 million more urban residents into poverty.

These statistics show why sustainability in the built environment is crucial, but how can it be achieved in Australia?

Leveraging Sustainability for our Buildings

A quick win opportunity available to building owners and occupiers is to include and integrate sustainability features into commercial building designs, fitouts and operations which can assist building owners and occupants to:

  • save money on their energy and water bills over the life of the building

  • add potential value at sale or lease

  • promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • enjoy more comfortable and healthier working environments

At a community level, sustainable building features will:

  • improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment and support climate change resilience

  • improve water efficiency and reduce demand on water resources and infrastructure

  • provide economic benefits by minimising the added costs associated with electricity infrastructure provision needed to meet peak demand

Building owners that incorporate sustainability features into their building either through design of new builds or retrofitting to existing properties are realising financial returns on their investment through higher re-sale and tenancy values.

Research is indicating that market premiums for office buildings with higher star ratings (NABERS or Green Star). For instance, a recent study found that office buildings with a 5-star NABERS Office Energy rating gained a 9% premium, while those with a 3 to 4.5 star rating gained a 2 to 3% premium. Buildings with a Green Star rating provided a premium of 12%.

Other benefits included reduced vacancy rates and reduced operating costs. An assessment in 2014 showed that office buildings with higher star ratings outperformed the broader office market across a range of financial indicators.

Rating the performance of your buildings

There are many organisations in Australia promoting and championing sustainability for the built environment. The Green Building Council, The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) National Built Environment Rating Scheme (NABERS), the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) amongst others.

  • Green Star

  • WELL or Fitwell



  • CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project)

To find out which rating system, or combination of schemes makes sense for your organisation get in touch with us to discuss further at

The Glacier Group specialise in ESG and sustainability advisory services for Australian businesses. To find out how we can help you on this journey, please get in touch! We look forward to speaking.

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