Best practice vinyl products now OK for green buildings

by FM Media
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A new Green Star ‘PVC’ credit has been introduced into all Green Star rating tools, following an extensive 18-month review.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), which operates the Green Star rating tool, says the new credit will encourage the development and use of best practice PVC material in Australia.
“The PVC credit, as it applied over the past six years, encouraged the minimisation of all PVC use in green buildings,” says Green Star executive director, Robin Mellon.
“The credit review process found that rewarding best practice PVC products within the Green Star rating system was the most effective way to encourage responsible production.”
The new credit has been endorsed by the GBCA’s technical steering committee following an assessment of independent literature and data, as well as the involvement of an expert reference panel (ERP) and a stakeholder feedback period.
According to Robin Mellon, the ERP has helped the GBCA to develop Best Practice Guidelines for PVC in the Built Environment, which “identifies the opportunities for environmental impact and health risk reductions in the PVC life-cycle. These guidelines also recognise some world-leading achievements of PVC manufacturers.”

Under the new PVC credit, projects will be able to claim two points towards their Green Star rating if the project’s flooring and resilient wall coverings, cable, pipe and conduit – which together account for the majority of PVC use in buildings – meet the GBCA’s Best Practice Guidelines.
Sophi MacMillan, chief executive officer of the Vinyl Council of Australia says: “This is a significant step forward. The challenge for our industry is to ensure availability of independently verified product that meets the best practice criteria in the new Credit. We are committed to encouraging a more sustainable PVC industry with products that improve environmental performance in the building sector.”
Mark Heathcote from the Plastics Industry Pipe Association adds: “Our industry believes the new approach will definitely encourage best environmental practice manufacturing and congratulates the GBCA for adopting a transparent review process that based decisions on verifiable facts.”
All Green Star projects that were registered before 7 April 2010 have the option to use either the old Green Star ‘PVC Minimisation’ credit or the new Green Star ‘PVC’ credit. Any projects registering after 7 April 2010 must use the new Green Star ‘PVC’ credit.
“Green Star is an evolving suite of tools that rely on industry assistance, information and expertise,” Mellon says. “The GBCA regularly reviews all nine of its rating categories, listens to feedback and studies the results of assessments to ensure that each credit remains relevant, robust and easy to use.
“The new PVC credit is the culmination of detailed consultation with industry and will ensure Green Star continues to push the boundaries of best practice sustainability benchmarks.”

For more discussion on this topic, particularly as it relates to vinyl flooring, watch out for the feature article in the upcoming June-July 10 issue of Facility Management.

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