Restating the role of nature in the built environment

23 March 2023

Industry leaders across the building and construction sector are coming together to restate the role of nature and biodiversity in the built environment.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) today released Building with Nature 2.0, the first step toward developing a roadmap for building with nature that can be adopted by industry.

Building with Nature 2.0 consolidates the latest science and global trends, research, policies, and views from industry, and will be used to inform the nature roadmap which will be released in 2024.

GBCA Chief Impact Officer, Jorge Chapa, said our industry is at a critical turning point when it comes to protecting and enhancing nature and biodiversity.

“Nature and biodiversity can no longer be an add-on to projects. When we incorporate it into our early planning for building projects we can enhance biodiversity, reduce emissions and create a healthier environment for people and our planet,” Mr Chapa said. 

“While many in industry are already leading the way in this space, we don’t yet have a consistent global approach to measuring nature impacts so that we can accurately assess outcomes.”

“We want to ensure that industry is supported in making good choices for nature management so that we can work together to restore and regenerate nature and biodiversity, and reduce our future impacts,” Mr Chapa said.

GBCA’s Nature Positive partner, The GPT Group, has proven to be an industry leader in this space through its commitment to have a net positive impact on biodiversity.

Mr Steve Ford, Head of Sustainability and Energy, The GPT Group, said their Biodiversity Policy outlines clear nature positive goals that achieve improved biodiversity outcomes.

“Our overarching sustainability principle is to start in our own backyard to measure, reduce and eliminate negative impacts on nature,” Mr Ford said. 

“There are a number of steps that we can take to improve biodiversity over time or to compensate for residual impacts.” 

“At GPT, we are doing both of these things in order to deliver nature positive outcomes,” Mr Ford said.

Some clear themes have been identified in this paper that will form the development of the roadmap:

  • The built environment sector must rapidly move towards improved nature outcomes.
  • Collaborative action must occur between government, private and not-for-profit sectors.
  • Nature must be viewed as being connected to all other sustainability challenges.
  • Nature must be considered throughout the built environment’s value chain.
  • Indigenous knowledge and ownership must be prioritised.
  • All stakeholders must have an opportunity to create positive nature impacts.

The upcoming roadmap will outline the GBCA’s vision for nature in the built environment, and will establish goals and targets that our advocacy, educational activities and rating tools will align with.

Case studies

Building with Nature 2.0 includes case studies from Barangaroo reserve, Sekisui House’s West Village, and GPT’s Highpoint Shopping Centre.