Ordinary office space or surreal environment?

To many people an office space is just a place for one to work, to slave away 9-5 with the weekly grind. But for some, a bare office space provides an endless amount of inspiration to transform it to not just an office space but also a space for living and innovation.  image6In this weeks lecture by guest speakers from Jones Lang LaSalle, Susan Feltaous and Corolyn Trickett, the dynamic duo explained and differentiated to us typical buildings vs. high performance buildings, and the IT involved that makes all the difference.

Now, your typical building is probably the one you’re sitting in right now (just like me), it has vertical transport, electrical power, air conditioning and fire protection but for those select lucky few, you will be in a high performance building and these my friends are what we strive for in office space. They have everything your typical building has plus more features and upgrades. These buildings are efficient, healthy, productive and resilient, not to mention that they can cope with catastrophic weather so if we get an all too frequent cyclone in Sydney, then never fear because you will be safe unlike the rest of us. Also, when it hits 2pm and we all start to feel groggy and sleepy, our elites in the 5 star NABERS Castlereagh building 163-Castlereagh-Street-8bnext to us will be at their maximum brainpower, which will be solely due to their high performance building providing them with more fresh oxygen and natural lighting. Not to mention the high performing building has automated blinds for glare control, double glazed glass, a lift system with floor destination control, gas fuelled generators and electrical floor sensors, the list could really go on but to make you a little more envious of the ANZ employees below is a fly through of the building.

So by this stage we have established the main rating tool as NABERS, but if a 6 star NABERS office building isn’t enough to brag about to your fellow frenemies (friend+ enemies= frenemies), then don’t worry because there’s also Green Star, CBD and BEECs. All of which really do a similar job but are just more medals to hang in front of reception. To be quite honest, I think having all of these rating systems just end up being pointless as it diminishes the importance of the ratings due to having so many of them. Germany as usual is ahead of the game and has developed just one standardized green building rating system, DGNB. We should certainly follow Germany’s advanced footsteps or even create an international standardised rating, which would certainly make things a lot easier.

These rating tools are great and all, but at the end of the day investors and developers are pouring millions of dollars into these green buildings but what do they get in return besides a cool certificate and some bragging rights? Well each star in a green building rating system isn’t as easy to get as it looks, and the more stars one has, the more desirable the building is which ultimately results in higher profitability. A recent Forbes article hit the nail on the head in saying “Many tenants are willing to pay a premium for space in green buildings because of the lower operating costs, higher worker productivity and reputational benefits associated with the superior environmental performance of green buildings.” Not to mention that a key finding in a recent survey by IFMA found that the most common reasons for aiming for a high green building rating is to demonstrate CSR to stakeholders and the public along with providing evidence of building efficiency.

I wonder how much each star whether it be NABERS, GreenStar or CBD (did I miss any?) would equate to in profitability terms. So yes it might be incredibly selfish of those who simply create high star green buildings for profits and profits alone, but just like anything, a dollar sign is always attached. But as long as it benefits the environment, I can’t complain.


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