Australian ESD’s called upon to review assessment parameters

Research conducted by Nature Based Cities and Ark Resources has questioned the Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) rating tools, claiming that not one of the five most common accreditation schemes includes tree retention, tree planting or nature-based landscaping as part of the assessment process.

The five ESD tools reviewed were Green Star, Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS), BASIX, EnviroDevelopment, and Climate Active. Nature Based Cities and Ark Resources believe Australian projects can gain high level accreditations without retaining or planting trees or other flora.

Nature Based Cities utilised the Ark Research study along with a report conducted by Urbis titled “The Growing Value of Green Space”, to urge the built environment industry to prioritise the inclusion of green space.

“The goal of Nature Based Cities is to encourage developers and large property owners to reverse urban tree loss and create new green space in our cities, while offering planners, designers, and developers a much-needed framework to incorporate more green open space into projects in cities’ inner and middle-ring suburbs,” says Paul Hameister OAM.

“Looking further afield we are advocating to refine Australia’s Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) standards to include greenery as part of their rating systems. The Ark research finds that it is currently possible to achieve a 6 star Green Star rating for a building – the highest level of ESD recognition possible – without a single tree or blade of grass. To me this is outrageously deficient.

“One of the simplest and most effective ways we can cool the earth and address climate change is to retain and plant more trees, and it’s time to provide every tool possible to the development industry to be a leading force for this change – starting with an urgent update to our Nation’s ESD accreditation tools.

Ark Resources Managing Director Jan Talacko believes the assessment of tree retention and planning within ESD rating tools is paramount to the growth and comfortability of Australia’s cities and their built environments.

“We recommend the introduction of mandatory minimum thresholds for incorporating vegetation across all green accreditation tools and believe that this requirement could be readily incorporated into all the rating frameworks we assessed.”

All Nature Based Cities research, findings and exemplar projects can be found at naturebasedcities.com.au.

This article was featured on Architecture & Design.

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