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Australian Green Building Innovation and Ethics Essay


Engineering is an important profession that helps people to develop sustainable innovations needed to solve different problems. The field has a direct impact on the quality of life and the environment. To ensure efficient working, engineers are guided by codes of ethics, which define their values and principles. Over the centuries, some innovations have been developed. In this paper, the author discussed the Green Building Novelty.

The innovation aims at promoting sustainability by addressing economic, social, and environmental concerns. Some of the environmental impacts of the novelty include a reduction in waste, as well as conservation of water and energy. In terms of society, innovation provides people with cheap and comfortable housing. Besides, the Green Building promotes health and personal fitness.


Innovation is the application of improved resolutions that meet new requirements or current market needs. It may entail the creation of new and more effective technologies, products, services, and business models that are available to the society, markets, and the government (Beatley & Newman, 2009). Innovation is brought about by several factors. The facets include efforts by different persons to come up with something new and unique, changes in market and industry structure, competition, and human perceptions.

In most nations, innovation for sustainability is given the highest priority by engineers. In Australia, for example, novelty is considered to be essential for sustainable growth in peoples’ standards of living and quality of life. The country’s engineers believe that the world has finite resources. As a result, it is important to develop ways of doing more with less to achieve sustainable growth. One of the innovations that entail doing more with less is the green building design. The sustainable construction model involves the setting up of structures that are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient throughout their lifecycle. According to Floyd and Bilka (2012), innovation is characterized by finding a balance between homebuilding and a sustainable environment.

In this paper, the author will provide an in-depth analysis of the Australia Green Building Innovation for Sustainability. The concepts to be discussed include the origins of the project, its impacts, and how the innovation addresses sustainability concerns. Also, the paper will focus on the ethical issues associated with green building design.

The Origin of the Green Building Innovation in Australia

Historical Overview

The origin of green building innovation is traced back to the late 19th century. However, the concept gained widespread momentum in the first decade of the 21st century. Some of the early buildings that were constructed using the green innovation design include the National Building Museum in Washington DC, London’s Crystal Palace, Milans’s Galleria, and Vittorio Emanuelle II (Maxwell, 2009). All these structures were set up using methods that reduced the impact of the buildings on the environment.

Buildings constructed in the early 20th century using similar and more improved techniques include such skyscrapers as the New York Times Building and Flatiron. The two structures could control internal temperatures while decreasing environmental degradation. According to Sayigh (2013), the techniques used in the buildings paved the way for the invention of new and more sophisticated construction technologies applied in different parts of the world such as Australia.

The Concept of Green building innovation in Australia was introduced in 1998 by Che Wall and Maria Atkinson in a conference in Mexico. However, the motion was not supported by other members in the meeting at the time. After a series of debates and presentations by a group of green building pioneers, the idea was adopted in 2002. Maxwell (2009) claims the Sydney Olympics in 2002 played a key role in influencing the adoption of Green Building Technology.

The reason is that Australia’s Property and Construction industry at the time proved green buildings were practicable and achievable. The move resulted in the founding of the Green Building Council of Australia.

Certifying of Green Sustainable Buildings in Australia

To measure the safety and benefits of innovation practices, the Green Building Council of Australia developed a green star rating tool. The score was based on nine environmental impact categories. The effects considered include management, energy, land use and ecology, indoor environment quality. Other facets assessed include emissions, water, and materials. The ratings provided comprehensive information on the sustainability performance of structures (Floyd & Bilka, 2012). The first building to be certified with a Green Star was 8 Brindabella Circuit at Canberra International Airport.

Since then, the Green Building Council has certified over 600 structures in Australia. Some of them include Trevor Pearcey House in Canberra and Szencorp Building at 40 Albert Road, South Melbourne. Both structures were certified with 6-star ratings. According to Sayigh (2013), Trevor Pearcey House was renovated at a cost of $1.7 million and registered 75% lessening in Carbon dioxide emissions. Besides, the structure produced a 75% reduction in water and energy usage. Another distinct feature is that it utilized over 80% of recycled materials. Szencorp Building was reported to save 71% of energy and 94% water. It also increased workers’ productivity by 13% (Maxwell, 2009).

Other certified sustainable green structures in Australia include Lend Lease radical building, 500 Collins Street and Council House 2 in Melbourne’s CBD, and 60L in Carlton. Beatley and Newman (2009) claim Lend and Lease announced the intention of constructing a structure that produced fewer gas emissions than traditional buildings. The announcement was received with mocking with most people saying it is impossible to construct such a building.

However, the structure was set up and received a five-star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. The structure produced 30% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional buildings of similar size. According to Floyd and Bilka (2012), the building was fitted with workstations instead of offices and had no air condition only chilled beam technology. Also, the structure was fitted with wet convict-hewn wall sandstone in place of a back wall.

500 Collins Street in Melbourne’s CBD was awarded a green star. Unlike Lend and Lease structure, 500 Collins Street was a 30year old refurbished building. Green Building Council of Australia reports revealed workers sick leaves reduced by 36%. As a result of this, the company registered a 44% reduction in the average monthly cost of sick leave. Besides, secretaries typing speeds increased by 9% (Beatly & Newman, 2009).

Impact of Green Building Innovation

Adoption of Green Building Innovation has positive impacts on both society and the environment.

Environmental Impact

Australia suffers from a harsh environment with climatic conditions varying extensively due to the country’s large geographic size. However, the populace has managed to control scarce resources and operate with extreme climate conditions. According to Maxwell (2009), resources such as water and energy are considered the main priorities. As a result of this, the nation’s engineers and architects through the adoption of green innovation design buildings which perform well in extreme conditions.

Green Building Innovation impacts the environment through the efficient use of water, energy, and other resources. Also, technology is essential to waste reduction and pollution control. Sayigh (2013) claims buildings consume the largest share of energy, electricity, and water. In terms of emissions, structures are responsible for 24% of the global CO2 releases annually. On its part, energy consumption rates are estimated to be more than 40% (Sayigh, 2013).

Water Efficiency

The primary purposes of sustainable building are reducing water consumption and maintain its quality. Beatley and Newman (2009) note water scarcity arises because use and demand surpass its replenishing ability. To prevent these cases, it is important to develop ways that enhance the dependence of water that is collected, purified, and re-used immediately. Green Building Innovation helps conserve water through fixing devices such as dual plumbing and Bidets that recycle and enable re-use of water used in the occupants of the structure.

Energy Efficiency

Green Building Innovation entails designing buildings that reduce energy consumption. The energy is classified as embodied power required to process, extract, transport, and fit construction materials. The other category is operating energy vital for heating and powering machinery. Australian engineers and Green Building Council of Australian report reveal high-performance structures set up using the innovation utilize less operating energy. Besides, the buildings save up to 30% of embodied energy during their life cycle (Beatley & Newman, 2009).

Operating energy consumption is reduced by utilizing details that minimize air leakage through the envelope of the structure. Other techniques incorporated in Green Building Innovation include fitting buildings with passive solar designs, awnings, porches, and trees. The primary purpose of trees or plantations is to shade windows and roofs during summer. Also, they maximize solar gain in winter. According to Floyd and Bilka (2012), high-performance windows in Green Buildings provide more natural light and reduce the need for electric lighting during the day.

Material Efficiency

Green Building Innovation conserves the environment through the use of renewable materials such as dimension stone, recycled metal and stone, and bamboo. Renewable products are often non-toxic and pose little threat to the environment (Maxwell, 2009). In Australia, the Green Building Council also advocates for use as recycled industrial products as coal combustion merchandise, demolition debris, and foundry sand.

Waste Reduction

Green Building Innovation aims to reduce waste production. According to Sayigh (2013), most of the waste in cities comes from commercial buildings. The adoption of innovation has helped conserve the environment by reducing the number of substances going to landfills. Structures constructed using the green technology approach provide on-site means of collecting waste such as compost bins. Before the advent of Green Building Innovation, structures that had completed their life cycle and considered unfit were often demolished. The debris was considered waste and non-re-usable. Currently, the waste can be collected and deconstructed into useful material that can be used to construct green buildings. Floyd and Bilka (2012) note extending the life of building products reduces waste.

Indoor Environment Quality enhancement

Green Building Innovation conserves the indoor environment by reducing the use of volatile organic compounds. Also, the structures are designed with naturally powered ventilation systems that provide adequate aeration of clean air for all occupants. Most construction materials used in traditional buildings are known to produce different emissions. Green Building uses materials and products and with no or minimal VOC discharges (Beatley & Newman, 2009).

Societal Impact

Green Building Innovation has proved to have numerous benefits to the Australian Society. The societal impacts of technology include improved health, schools, healthier lifestyles, and recreation. Besides, the novelty has resulted in the construction of cheap and comfortable housing disadvantaged groups such as Australian Aboriginal communities.

Improved Health

Most traditional designed buildings have poor indoor environmental quality. The reason this is because they have bad lighting, insufficient air circulation, temperature variances, and mold build-up. Other features include toxic adhesives and paint and carpeting or furniture materials. All these factors were associated with most respiratory, nausea, and other ailments affecting occupants. Engineers of Green Innovation using deigns and materials which promote health and comfortable living with the structures. Maxwell (2009) claims the Green Building Council of Australia guidelines require contractors to use low emitting interior products. All products used for construction are tested thoroughly before use by the Council. The reason for this is to ensure they meet the required standards and pose no health threat concerns.

Green Building Innovation considers and addresses different problems faced by occupants. For example, green technology uses solid wood products in environments where people suffer from allergies caused by dust. According to Beatley and Newman (2009), wood is hypo-allergenic. Also, it prevents the accumulation of dust and other particles.

Improved Schools

Most schools are built in the traditional approach. As a result of this, the environmental conditions comprise the learning and concentration capabilities of students. Green Building Innovation has been reported to increase productivity in schools. The same case has been witnessed in schools. Learning institutions built using Green Technology provide a healthier atmosphere and environment for students learning. Floyd and Bilka (2012) note scholars are green buildings registers improved performance. Besides, absenteeism cases are reduced by a big margin.

Healthier Lifestyles and Recreation

Green Building Innovation focuses on designing spacious structures with different natural environments that offer a wide range of recreation and exercise opportunities. Also, the beautiful and stylish designs of external environs limit the driving of vehicles. As a result of this, people assessing different areas of the buildings need to walk. The feature acts as a way of exercise for people encouraging personal health and fitness.

Construction of Cheap and Comfortable Housing

Some parts of Australia are inhabited by persons who lack proper housing. Over the past decades, government and non-governmental bodies have developed projects to help people from Aboriginal communities. However, most of the projects have failed with others being abandoned due to financial constraints. Also, engineers failed to concur with the dwellers on the house’s designs.

The adoption of Green Building Innovation has provided the government and non-governmental bodies with cheap means of developing sustainable housing programs for remote indigenous communities. Sayigh (2013) claims the houses are built after engineers consolations with the indigenous communities on the different aspects of design and construction. Primary features considered during the construction of the structures include building life cycle, climatic conditions, environmental performance, and embodied energy.

Aboriginal communities hold high importance of making decisions concerning sustaining the earth and different creations such as air, fire, and water. The reason for this is because they consider the elements to be sacred. Green Building Innovation aligns with the community’s beliefs.

Ethical Concerns associated with Green Building Innovation

Engineers use their knowledge and skills for the benefits of the community to provide sustainable solutions for the future. As a result of this, they put the need of society before their interests. Beer and McMurrey (2009) claim Engineers have codes of ethics that guide their work. However, practitioners are faced with various ethical issues. The ethical concerns include failure to demonstrate integrity and obligation to the society, competence, and acknowledgment.

Failure to demonstrate Integrity

The issue of failure to maintain integrity when implementing Green Building Innovation arises when engineers operate on bias and fail to offer informed conscience. In some projects, the contractors have been accused of putting their interests before those of the community or clients. In such instances, the practitioners are guided by the desire to make reap huge benefits from the project at the expense of others.

The issues have been solved by formulating guidelines and councils that monitor and regulate engineers’ operations. The experts are required to be guided by honesty and trustworthiness in all their activities (McCuen & Gilroy, 2010). Besides, they are required to respect the dignity of all persons.

Falsifying Qualifications

Green Building Innovation has made architects and engineers work more marketable. As a result of this, practitioners are widely sought by different people and corporations. To get a share in the business, some engineers are been reported to falsify qualifications and permits to get contracts. Martin and Schinzinger (2010) observe that such practitioners endanger lives and are a threat to the public and the environment.

Such ethical concerns have been addressed by developing channels that help the public know authorized and unauthorized engineers by contacting engineering firms. Also, laws have been set in place to hold the practitioners accountable for their actions. According to McCuen and Gilroy (2010), legal actions are taken against engineers who fail to hold paramount the safety, health, and wellbeing of the public.


Engineers work with a team of several experts such as designers and architects. In some cases, engineers fail to give credit where its due. The reason for this is to gain all glory for work done. Martin and Schinzinger (2010) note the issue has been a major challenge for parties involved in Green Building Innovation implementation.

The concern has been addressed through formulating laws on copyright and ownership. It is obligatory for engineers whenever possible to name any person(s) responsible for creating inventions, drawings, or design used in Green Building.

How Green Building Innovation addresses Sustainability

Green Building Innovation addresses sustainability by managing economic, social, and environmental concerns. The issues are part of the four domains which ensure sustainable development. According to Beatley and Newman (2009), Green Building addresses the issue because the innovation is not limited to anything throughout its life cycle. From the initial construction stage to the end, Green Building Novelty provides practical responses to all aspects related to the environment and society. Currently, environmental sustainability is a primary global concern. As a result of this, different groups are working together to develop mechanisms and innovations such as Green Building that contribute to the effective use and preservation of natural resources.

Relevance to Engineers

The Green Building Innovation is relevant to engineers in numerous ways. It will help the practitioners to design and set up buildings that help to conserve the environment and promote human health and wellbeing (McCuen & Gilroy, 2010). The innovation will challenge engineers to develop highly sophisticated technology to promote environmental sustainability.


The Green Building Innovation has more pros than cons. Currently, the resources and space available for projects related to the novelty are limited. As a result, engineers should continue to focus on doing more with less. For example, traditional structures can be refurbished to match green buildings instead of demolishing them. Besides, engineers can design structures, such as skyscrapers, where there is limited space. To address issues of ethical concerns, strict laws and governing councils should be put in place to regulate the conduct of the engineers (Sayigh, 2013).

Lessons Learnt

The study on engineering innovation and ethics had various benefits. The lessons learned include understanding the importance of innovation in solving real-life problems affecting both the environment and the community. The disadvantages of developing technology that ensures sustainability was also made apparent. Besides, the study helped to identify the benefits of upholding ethical values in engineering and other professions.

Challenges Faced when Gathering Information

Several challenges were faced when gathering information. The main problem was getting credible sources and legal cases related to ethical issues affecting the Green Building innovation. However, the problem was overcome by meeting with engineering leaders from different companies. The professionals provided information that was crucial to the project.


Innovation is critical to sustainable growth. It improves the quality of life and living standards. To ensure sustainability through novelty, engineers apply scientific principles, which help to solve different problems. A few decades ago, some concepts seemed inapplicable and impossible. However, innovativeness among engineers and designers has made the ideas implementable. To ensure the successful execution of such novelties as the Green Building, ethical guidelines are used. The codes ensure that engineers carry out their duties while upholding high standards of professional conduct.


Beatley, T., & Newman, P. (2009). Green urbanism down under: Learning from sustainable communities in Australia. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Beer, D., & McMurrey, D. (2009). A guide to writing as an engineer (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Floyd, A., & Bilka, A. (2012). Green building: A professional’s guide to concepts, codes and innovation. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Martin, M., & Schinzinger, R. (2010). Introduction to engineering ethics. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Maxwell, I. (2009). Managing sustainable innovation: The driver for global growth. New York: Springer.

McCuen, R., & Gilroy, K. (2010). Ethics and professionalism in engineering. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press.

Sayigh, A. (2013). Sustainability, energy and architecture: Case studies in realising green buildings. Elsevier Academic Press.

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