Australia Green Building Council Revises its Green Star ProgramNovember 29, 2011
Back in 2002, the Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) launched as a national, not-for-profit organization committed to developing a sustainable industry for Australia by encouraging the adoption of green building practices. Last year the GBCA, often thought of as Australia’s equivalent of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) converted an anti-polyvinyl chloride (PVC) credit into a campaign for the responsible use of PVC. In April 2010, Green Star reversed their anti-PVC credit and created a two-point credit to encourage the responsible usage of PVC.
According to the Green Star program – the GBCA’s voluntary environmental rating system that evaluates the environmental design and construction of buildings – the objective of the PVC credit is “to reduce the environmental and health impacts of PVC by encouraging the use of this material and by adhering to best practice guidelines.”
The Best Practice Guidelines for PVC in the Built Environment cover environmental impacts and health risks associated with the manufacture and end of life management of the common uses of PVC products used in buildings.
According to GBCA, the credit only refers to common uses of PVC in buildings and only applies to pipes, conduit and associated fittings; wire and cable insulation; flooring and resilient wall covering which together account for the majority of PVC use in buildings. Any other PVC product is not addressed by the credit.
The Green Star Literature Review and Best Practice Guidelines for the Life Cycle of PVC Building Products states that: “in Australia, more than 75 percent of all PVC products are used in the built environment, primarily in base building applications. Conduit, pipes and fittings are viewed as the dominant use of PVC in 74 percent of building product applications. Flooring is the second major use of PVC in building and fit out products at 19 percent. Found in 7 percent, cable and wire insulation are shown as the third most common use of PVC, followed by PVC windows and doors (which are classified under the heading rigid profiles) as a small occurrence at 0.3 percent.”
Lori LePera, Marketing Manager at Deceuninck N. A., maintains that “although PVC windows only account for a minimal amount of PVC usage and are not considered in the credit, the recognition and acceptance of PVC as a sustainable building material is good for the industry,.”
Points are awarded based on the total cost of PVC in an entire building. As such, one point is awarded when at least 60 percent of the common uses of products in buildings (by cost) comply and two points are conferred when at least 90 percent complies. The program also maintains that if the cost of PVC products in common uses of PVC represents less than 0.05 percent of the project’s total contract value or there are no PVC products present in the project for any of the common uses of PVC, this credit is ”Not Applicable” and is, therefore, excluded from the points available.
For further information on the Green Star PVC Credit program, please refer to the GBCA website for detailed background and references supporting the Green Star PVC credit. Or for more information on vinyl activities and updates in the industry, visit AAMA’s Vinyl Material Council web page.