Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Waste Technology and Innovation Study

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Construction Industry

Waste from the construction and demolition industry forms a significant proportion of all waste generated in Australia. The reduction and recycling of this waste is one area that green design could go some way in achieving. In Australia we are seeing a greater emphasis on green building design and operation with increasing specification of Green Star standards and the development of the Australian NABERS program.

The Green Star rating system maintained by the Green Building Council of Australia and covers the environmental design and construction of buildings. Green Star has nine standard categories such as Indoor Environment Quality, Energy and Transport. Points are awarded for achieving credits in each category. A maximum of 120 points is available from which a formula calculates the overall score and what star rating is achieved out of a maximum of six stars. Waste is covered in the Materials category and points are awarded for building and materials reuse, shell and core fit out, use of concrete and steel, minimising PVC, use of sustainable timber, design for disassembly and recycling waste storage. A maximum of 22 points is available in the Materials category. Up to two waste points are also available in the Management category where the waste contractor implements a Waste Management Plan and up to 80% of all demolition and construction waste is reused or recycled.188

The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) applies to existing office buildings, hotels and homes and does not cover the design or construction phase. It works by measuring operational impact and covers energy, water, waste and indoor environment. The waste element of NABERS measures the amount of materials generated, how much of it is diverted from landfill and provides a rating of up to five stars.189

To further encourage waste minimisation and recovery in both the design and construction and operational phases of building use, the weighting given to waste in these schemes could be increased.

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