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Melbourne consistently ranks as one of the most ‘liveable’ cities in the world. But what about our manufacturing work places? How liveable are they?
According to De Carolis Constructions Managing Director Matt De Carolis there appears to be a double standard when it comes to the application of environmental and sustainability standards to Australian buildings. And this discrepancy is discriminating against a large number of Australian workers.
“Australian manufacturing facilities have not kept pace with other work place environments in terms of their ‘green compliance’,” De Carolis said.
“This is because manufacturing has attracted relatively little interest or obligation from green regulators. The manufacturing sector has also been complicit in this by not seeking to improve conditions for its workforce. Consequently there at two types of workplace in Australia – those that offer their workers the benefits of four-star or above indoor and outdoor environment quality – and those that don’t.
“Why should manufacturing workers be disadvantaged in terms of what today would be considered minimum workplace conditions and standards? Why are these workers any different from those who work in offices? Surely the principles of energy efficiency, healthy working conditions and environmental sustainability apply to all people and businesses across Australia? Clearly what we need is a green revolution for Australian manufacturing buildings,” he said.
Since its introduction in 2002, the Green Building Council of Australia has awarded over 600 Green Star ratings to Australian buildings. Yet only six buildings classified as ‘industry’ have been granted a certificate of four-stars or higher. Not one industry building to date has been given a ‘world leader’ rating of six, the highest rating possible. (Anything less than four is not given a rating worthy of marketability.)
The Council’s Green Star rating system is one of Australia’s leading environmental rating tools for buildings. It is widely used to review and benchmark environmental sustainability in categories such as air quality, energy use, water use, innovation and ecology.
Australian governments of all jurisdictions enforce compulsory green rating levels for office developments. For example, the City of Melbourne’s Environmentally Sustainable Office Buildings (ESOB) Policy is a planning scheme, which through clause 22.19 requires a four-star Green Star Certified Rating for office developments with a gross area of more than 5,000 square meter.
Despite the green gap within the Australian workplace, De Carolis is leading its own green revolution. De Carolis Constructions, which owns and operates a large office manufacture, build and fit-out company in Melbourne’s North, is updating its manufacturing facilities to comply with Green Star rating standards.
“We have been building and installing high quality Green Star office fit-outs for our clients for many years. Now it’s our turn. We installed green wall systems, window treatments, new light technology, outside and inside dining areas, sleepers and olive trees,” De Carolis said. “Our employees are enjoying their new workplace, in fact they thrive in it. They understand what a difference it makes when their workplace is well-lit with great air quality, because it’s a service we provide our own clients.”
De Carolis is calling on government and peak bodies to ensure the manufacturing green revolution comes to life. “Even revolutions require support. Australian Governments, industry bodies and unions can all help to close the gap by providing leadership and collaboration on this issue,” he said.