Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE)

Green Star Rating Tool for Educational Facilities


By Andrew Tidswell, Department of Education and Children's Services, Australia

A range of Green Star rating tools are used in many countries to improve the design and management of schools and higher education facilities. The following information summarises the GBCA tool used in Australia, but the general principles are applicable to other systems.

While each country utilises its own specific tools, they share many common elements and provide similar benefits. The most common are the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) tool, the BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design tool (LEED).


Benefits of using a Green Star rating tool

  • Establishes a common language and standard of measurement for green buildings.
  • Promotes integrated, whole building design.
  • Recognises environmental leadership.
  • Identifies building life-cycle impacts.
  • Raises awareness of green building benefits.
  • Transforms the built environment and reduces the environmental impact of development.

Benefits of a green education building

  • Reduction in energy and water use, waste, greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of resources.
  • Healthier internal and external environments.
  • Improved learning outcomes.
  • Reduced staff and student stress.
  • Lower operating costs.
  • Use of the physical facilities for environmental education, and to lead cultural change in the community.


 Buildings consume

 Buildings generate
 32% of all resources   40% of waste
 12 % of water   40% of air emissions
 40 % of energy   

Better management of energy and water usage and indoor environment quality can reduce costs by 60%.



  • No refrigerants or ozone depleting substances.
  • No refrigerants, or only those with low global warming potential.
  • Refrigerant leak detection.
  • Reduce light pollution.
  • No cooling towers.
  • Energy meters to monitor and manage use.
  • Storm water managed and treated before leaving the site.
  • Reduce sewerage discharge.


  • Reduce potable water consumption.
  • Install water meters for major uses.
  • Provide landscape irrigation from non-potable sources, use water efficient irrigation systems and use the “xeriscape”™ approach to gardens.
  • No cooling towers or evaporative cooling.
  • Develop an alternative water storage for fire safety.
  • Use non-potable water supply for lavatory and laboratory use.

Indoor environment quality

  • Provide outside air ventilation and ensure air change effectiveness.
  • Install carbon dioxide and VOC (volatile organic compound) monitoring systems.
  • Provide for natural daylight, but reduce glare.
  • Ensure lighting levels meet but do not exceed the recognised standard.
  • Provide high frequency ballasts in fluorescent fittings.

Green star accreditation

Green star rating tools are available to track environmental performance of building design and operation. Formal Green Star certification requires payment to a third party for the assessment and accreditation. An interim rating given on the building design and certification at the following levels is issued on assessment after 12 months’ occupancy. The ratings are based on scores up to 105 (score of 100 + 5 for innovation).

  • Best practice: 4 Star certified rating (score of 45-59).
  • Excellence: 5 Star certified rating (score of 60-74).
  • World leadership: 6 Star certified rating (score of 75-100).

For further information, contact:
Andrew Tidswell
Senior Policy Adviser
Asset Policy and Capital Programs
Department of Education and Children's Services
Adelaide, South Australia
Tel.: 61 8 8226 1731
Fax: 61 8 8231 2358


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