Getting to know Green Star

Evaluating environmental design and construction in Australia

image of the Library at the Dock which utilises U-MAX 100 Centre Glaze

The Library at The Dock achieved a 6 Star Green Star rating for a public building. It utilises U-MAX 100 Centre Glazed framing.

EDGE Architectural Glazing Systems have been used in several Green Star rated projects and we usually write about these as we learn of the certification award. Today, I thought it might be nice to take a step back and touch on what Green Star is and why we’re so proud when a project with EDGE systems earns the rating.

Sustainable design and construction materials that deliver energy efficient performance play a vital role in Australia. We truly believe this is the future. However, a uniform way of evaluating a building’s thermal performance can be challenging.

Enter Green Star

A need existed for environmental measurement criteria developed specifically for Australia and Australian conditions. A few systems and tools had been established in overseas markets, the British BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) system and the North American LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system, for example, but not a comprehensive Australian model. Created by the Green Building Council Australia (GBCA), Green Star is a comprehensive environmental rating system for evaluating the environmental design and construction of buildings in Australia.

According to the GBCA website, Green Star was developed to:

  • establish a common language
  • set a standard of measurement for built environment sustainability
  • promote integrated, holistic design
  • recognise environmental leadership
  • identify and improve life-cycle impacts
  • raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable design, construction and urban planning

image of construction progress on Faculty of ABP project with U-MAX thermally broken framing systems

Featuring multiple products within the EDGE Architectural suites, the University of Melbourne Faculty of ABP earned a Six Star Green Star rating.

The GBCA’s mission is to promote sustainable development and promoting green building programs, technologies, design practices and operations. The Green Star program is part of that. Although informed by the British BREEAM system and the North American LEED system, as well as the ESD Guide of VicUrban, Green Star is uniquely Australian. Certification is a formal process. An independent assessment panel reviews documentation of evidence and awards points. Green Star rates projects in nine categories, management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, and emissions and innovation. The Green Star rating is determined by comparing the overall score with the rating scale. According to the GBCA, more than 7.2 million square metres of Green Star-certified space exist around Australia, plus a further 8 million square metres of Green Star-registered space.

Principled performance

While windows do not consume energy themselves, heat transfer through windows results in the running of larger heating and cooling systems for longer periods. Because of this, window system choice is the leading factor in managing CO2 emissions in commercial buildings.

A typical commercial building’s energy requirements:

  • 33% Heating
  • 21% Cooling
  • 16% Ventilation
  • 15% Lighting
  • 9% Office Equipment and other
  • 6% Cooking and Hot Water
University of Tasmania's IMAS building earned a 5 Star Green Star rating. It features several EDGE Architectural Glazing Systems products.

University of Tasmania’s IMAS building earned a 5 Star Green Star rating. It features several EDGE Architectural Glazing Systems products.

This means 85 per cent of operational energy use is influenced by choice of building materials. More than half of a building’s energy requirements are for heating and cooling, and up to 80 per cent of the energy used in for this is lost through heat transfer through the building’s windows.

Labelled the “thermal wound” of a building, windows allow outside temperatures inside, costing money, wasting fuels and reducing the usable space in a structure. To achieve sustainable buildings, this “thermal wound” had to be addressed. The EDGE R&D team adopted international best practices for energy conservation and adapted them for Australian conditions to meet Australian standards. IN particular, we turned our attention to thermally broken window and door systems.

A break for the future

A thermal break or thermal barrier is an element of low thermal conductivity placed in an assembly to reduce or prevent the flow of thermal energy between conductive materials. The U-MAX™ suites feature a thermal break of either polyurethane or polyamide – the insulating material used is determined by the application of the particular suite.

In colder climates, the thermal break reduces heating cost and the reduction of “cold spots” within rooms. In warmer climates, the thermal break reduces cooling costs generated by the heat that transfers through a standard frame and radiates into a room. In humid climates, thermally broken frames reduce condensation. Condensation on window frames results in water pooling on sills and often tracking onto walls and floors. Water damage and mould are the inevitable consequence of condensation on frames.

On the EDGE of innovation

We at EDGE Architectural think the Green Star rating system is incredibly exciting and we’re proud to be part of projects leading change and transformation in Australia’s design and construction industry.