image of a green building exterior

Green building and sustainable development are more than just buzzwords in today’s world—they are imperatives for creating a better and more environmentally conscious future. 

With sustainability becoming increasingly crucial in the construction industry, we are eager to gain their valuable insights and learn about the innovative approaches and technologies employed by construction and real estate professionals to drive green building practices and foster sustainable development. 

Read on below to explore insights from Regional Lead (Australia and New Zealand) Bart Crowther, and Regional Head for MENA + APAC Vitaly Berezka, uncovering their perspectives on green building, sustainable development, and the role of technology in driving positive change. 

In your opinion, how has the green building industry evolved in 2023 compared to previous years? 

Bart Crowther:  

We are thrilled to witness the remarkable growth of the green building industry in 2023. The increased adoption of sustainable practices and technologies is a testament to the growing awareness among building owners and developers about the long-term benefits and value that green buildings provide.  

We’ve found that three key factors have contributed to this increased adoption. First, there is a heightened understanding of the impact that buildings have on the environment and human health. Second, Australian governments and regulatory bodies are implementing stricter energy efficiency standards and offering incentives for green building initiatives, which is motivating stakeholders to pursue more sustainable practices.  

We’re also seeing technological advancements have revolutionized the construction landscape, enabling us to push the boundaries of sustainable building practices – such as renewable energy solutions, energy efficiency and occupancy detection systems and smart building analytics. These advancements in construction materials and technologies have also made it easier and more cost-effective to incorporate sustainable elements into building projects. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

We are witnessing a significant shift in the construction industry towards prioritizing resilience in the face of climate change. The recognition of the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events has prompted us to reevaluate our building practices and develop strategies to enhance the durability and adaptability of our structures. The emphasis on resilience has not only transformed the way we approach green building but has also introduced new strategies and innovations that mitigate the risks associated with climate change. 

Through strategies such as enhanced insulation, water management systems, and adaptive designs, we are creating buildings that are better equipped to withstand extreme weather events and contribute to a more resilient built environment. These innovations not only protect the safety and well-being of occupants but also ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of structures in the face of climate uncertainties. As construction professionals, we remain committed to integrating resilient design principles into our projects and driving positive change in the industry. 

What are the biggest challenges faced by the green building industry in terms of cost and scalability? How has the construction industry adapted to these challenges? 

Bart Crowther:  

Implementing green building practices has indeed presented a challenge for some stakeholders due to the upfront costs involved. However, as a construction industry, we have adapted by highlighting the long-term cost savings and return on investment that green buildings offer. While the initial investment may be higher, the reduced operating expenses over the building’s lifespan and increased property value make it a financially sound choice. Energy-efficient systems, improved insulation, and sustainable materials all contribute to lower utility bills and maintenance costs, resulting in significant savings over time.  

We are also seeing that the market demand for green buildings is on the rise, with studies demonstrating that green-certified buildings command higher resale values and attract buyers willing to pay a premium for sustainable features. 

The scalability of green building practices has raised concerns due to limited availability and higher costs of sustainable materials and technologies. However, companies have proactively responded by fostering partnerships with suppliers and manufacturers to drive innovation in sustainable materials and technologies. Collaborating closely with suppliers enables construction and real estate developers to source cost-effective solutions and improve the availability of sustainable materials. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

Addressing skill and knowledge gaps in green building practices has been a top priority for the construction industry in recent years. Navigating a post-COVID landscape in Australia, we understand that the successful implementation of these practices requires specialized expertise. We have established training and certification programs to equip professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively design, construct, and operate green buildings. These comprehensive programs cover various aspects such as energy efficiency, sustainable materials, renewable energy systems, and green building rating systems. 

Collaboration among different disciplines is crucial in ensuring the successful implementation of green building projects. Architects, engineers, and contractors must work together from the project’s inception to leverage their collective expertise and develop integrated, sustainable solutions. This collaborative approach not only promotes more innovative thinking, but also fosters knowledge exchange across teams. 

We’re also noting that the construction industry has embraced the use of technology to overcome skill and knowledge gaps. Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, for instance, facilitates collaborative project management and enhances communication among project stakeholders. BIM platforms enable the integration of sustainable design principles, energy analysis tools, and virtual simulations. This allows construction and architecture companies to visualize and optimize green building strategies before the construction phase begins, leading to more efficient and effective build outcomes. 

What role do you see smart technology (and smart construction) playing in enhancing sustainability in green buildings? 

Bart Crowther:  

Smart technology has definitely brought about a significant shift in energy optimization within the construction and facility management industries. We’re seeing a number of businesses embracing real-time monitoring and control, to achieve optimal energy usage and effectively manage demand. Through IoT-automated controls, sensor networks, and machine learning algorithms, building operators can dynamically adjust energy systems to minimize waste and maximize efficiency.  

These systems can be seamlessly integrated with smart controls and energy storage solutions to optimize energy production, consumption, and distribution. These advancements in smart building technology empowers users to create intelligent and adaptive buildings that can readily respond to changing needs over time. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

Data-driven decision-making is increasingly empowering users to make well-informed choices about building performance and energy management. Thanks to advancements in smart construction and data analytics, building managers can extract valuable insights from the vast amounts of data generated by buildings – energy consumption patterns, areas of inefficiency and opportunities for improvement. This data also enables users to proactively identify potential maintenance issues, preventing costly repairs and ensuring the smooth operation of building systems. 

We’re also seeing that one of the prevailing trends in data-driven decision making is the integration of Building Information Modeling (BIM) with existing energy analysis tools. BIM provides a digital representation of the building, incorporating various data sources and parameters. By combining BIM with energy analysis tools, businesses can simulate and evaluate different energy efficiency strategies during the design phase, guaranteeing that the building is optimized for energy performance even before construction begins. 

The integration of data-driven decision-making into sustainability strategies is crucial for the long-term operation and efficiency of green buildings. Real estate developers want to ensure that green buildings not only meet sustainability goals at the time of construction, but also continue to operate efficiently and sustainably throughout their lifespan. 

How do you see green building impacting urban planning and the development of sustainable infrastructure? 

Bart Crowther:  

Green building practices are indeed spearheading a transformative shift towards integrated sustainability in urban planning. We, as an industry, are recognizing the importance of considering multiple facets of sustainability in the development of cities. It is no longer just about energy efficiency within individual buildings but also about creating holistic and environmentally-friendly urban environments.  

Sustainability in urban planning involves more than just green buildings. It includes energy-efficient design, renewable energy sources, green spaces, walkability, and efficient public transportation. These elements work together to create resilient and sustainable cities. 

Current trends reflect this integrated approach. Eco-districts or sustainable neighborhoods are on the rise. They incorporate green building practices, pedestrian-friendly design, public transportation access, and the preservation of green spaces. These districts foster community, reduce car reliance, and enhance quality of life. 

Renewable energy sources are now also being integrated into urban infrastructure. Solar panels on rooftops, wind turbines in public spaces, and district-level energy systems harnessing renewable energy are becoming common. These innovations reduce reliance on fossil fuels and enhance the resilience and sustainability of cities. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

Green building practices play a pivotal role in shaping sustainable urban development. We recognize the paramount importance of integrating sustainable infrastructure into urban planning, fostering environmentally-friendly and resilient cities. This approach transcends individual buildings, embracing the entire urban ecosystem. 

Renewable energy systems stand as the cornerstone of sustainable urban development. By seamlessly integrating solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal systems into buildings and infrastructure, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and curtail emissions. 

Green spaces hold a pivotal position in sustainable urban development. Parks, gardens, and urban forests not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of cities but also promote biodiversity, mitigate heat island effects, and improve air quality. In addition, they provide recreational areas, support well-being, and contribute to the creation of a sustainable and livable urban environment. 

What are some of the greatest long-term economic advantages and savings associated with green building practices? 

Bart Crowther: 

I think the construction industry as a whole is witnessing and taking note of the significant energy cost savings that green buildings offer. These long-term savings make green buildings a financially attractive investment, as they help to offset the initial costs associated with implementing sustainable features. 

Green buildings are highly valuable assets, providing energy efficiency, environmental advantages, and enhanced indoor quality. As the market demand for sustainability continues to rise, research indicates that these certified green buildings can command higher property values. This, in turn, presents potential financial benefits for building owners through increased resale or rental prices. 

The trend towards green building certification programs, such as GBCA, LEED or BREEAM, further reinforces the positive impact on property value. These certifications serve as recognized symbols of sustainability and quality, which helps to boost confidence in potential buyers or tenants and influencing their decision-making process. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

Simply put, there are significant lifecycle cost savings that green building practices offer. The use of high-quality, sustainable materials and systems in green buildings contributes to their longevity and resilience – energy efficiency, lower maintenance costs, reduced need for frequent equipment or infrastructure repairs and predictive smart building features that allow for a smoother building operational experience. 

The trend towards life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) in green building design and construction further emphasizes the importance of considering long-term costs and savings. LCA evaluates the environmental impact of a building throughout its life cycle, while LCC assesses the total costs associated with its construction, operation, and maintenance. These approaches enable us to make informed decisions that prioritize cost-effective and sustainable solutions. 

How does the certification process, such as GBCA, LEED or BREEAM, help in verifying and recognizing green building projects in Australia? How do you see sustainability certifications playing a role in the development of future cities? 

Bart Crowther:  

Green building certifications offer a standardized framework to evaluate and validate the sustainability of building projects. These certifications assess various factors, including energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, and materials used. By adhering to these rigorous sustainability criteria, green building projects can create sustainable structures that prioritize occupant well-being while minimizing environmental impact. 

Beyond their role in verifying sustainability, these certification processes provide industry recognition to developers, architects, and building owners. They serve as a distinguished symbol of excellence in sustainability, showcasing projects that demonstrate a strong commitment to environmental responsibility. This recognition not only sets projects apart in the market but also enhances reputation, fostering a culture of sustainability within the Australian construction industry. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

PlanRadar recognizes the vital role that sustainability certifications play in shaping the cities of the future. We firmly believe that these certifications establish higher standards for sustainability and incentivize the integration of green building practices and technologies. As a result, developers can create more sustainable urban landscapes, reduce environmental impact, and enhance residents’ quality of life. 

Innovation serves as the driving force behind sustainable city development. By establishing rigorous criteria for certification, we challenge ourselves to embrace emerging technologies and cutting-edge designs. For instance, we are seeing the increasing utilization of renewable energy sources and sustainable building materials, such as solar panels, cross-laminated timber (CLT) and recycled concrete in urban developments. 

Sustainability certifications serve as an invaluable tool for fostering innovation and advancing sustainable city development. They promote the adoption of best practices in green building design and construction, creating a culture of sustainability and propelling progress towards sustainable development goals. 

What advice would you give to developers, architects, and homeowners interested in adopting green building practices in 2023? 

Bart Crowther:  

My advice to developers, architects, and homeowners interested in adopting green building practices in 2023 is to collaborate and seek expertise. Sustainable building practices can be complex, and it’s essential to have a team of experts who can provide guidance on the best strategies and technologies to use.  

Gaining insights and guidance is crucial when it comes to sustainability. One effective way is to seek out experts and professionals who specialize in various areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, green materials, and sustainable design. These individuals can offer valuable advice on implementing green building practices, ensuring that projects meet rigorous sustainability criteria. 

Successful implementation also relies on collaboration. Developers, architects, homeowners, and sustainability experts should work together to develop a comprehensive plan that considers all aspects of the project, from design to construction and operation. This collaborative approach ensures that sustainable building practices are integrated from the beginning, reducing retrofitting costs and minimizing environmental impact. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

First and foremost, prioritizing life-cycle thinking when designing and constructing buildings is of utmost importance. This entails considering the complete life cycle of a building, from its construction and operation to its eventual decommissioning. By adopting a life-cycle approach, we can pinpoint areas where we can reduce environmental impact and enhance sustainability throughout the building’s lifespan. This encompasses strategies such as selecting durable and low-maintenance materials, implementing cutting-edge energy-efficient systems, and designing for adaptability to accommodate future changes. 

Additionally, it is advisable to stay ahead of innovations in green building technologies and practices. The construction industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies and practices emerging at an unprecedented rate. It is crucial to stay informed about the latest advancements, emerging trends, regulations, and incentives in order to make informed decisions and capitalize on new opportunities for sustainability. 

Ultimately, emphasizing life-cycle thinking and keeping up-to-date with innovations are two pivotal pieces of advice for those seeking to embrace green building practices in 2023. 

Bart Crowther is the Regional Lead of Australia and New Zealand for the global SaaS Construction Tech platform PlanRadar.  

With more than 10 years’ experience in the construction industry, Crowther has worked in a number of high-profile and senior leadership roles for companies such as Aconex, Avoka Technologies, Fujitsu, Kronos and Data#3. 

Over the last 15 years, Crowther has directly specialised in construction Software as a Service (SaaS) and also business process automation; providing guidance and advice on construction management and business processes optimisation to a wide range of clients, teams and audiences around the world. 

Vitaly Berezka is leading business development across Central Asia, MENA and APAC regions for the prominent PropTech company PlanRadar.  

With an engineering degree in construction, Vitaly as well holds an executive degree in business administration. His experience in the real estate development and construction industry spans more than 15 years. Since 2013, he has held management positions in international companies that provide innovative solutions to the construction and real estate industries.  

Besides lecturing on digitalization topics at universities, he is the author of scientific publications and the co-author of three books. Vitaly is a member of International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI). 

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