As part of its ‘Cleaner, Greener Buildings’ election commitment in 2009 and its ‘ClimateQ: Toward a greener Queensland’ policy, the Queensland Labor Government announced it was committed to introducing a range of policies aimed at reducing energy demand in the building sector.

One such policy is the ‘Green Door Policy’. It is difficult to write this article without the words of the Shakin’ Stevens song drumming inside my head. However, in short, the Green Door Policy is designed to fast track new sustainable developments through the often long and complex integrated development assessment system (IDAS) under the Sustainable Development Act 2009 (SPA) and related legislation. If you are interested in how to ‘join the happy crowd behind the Green Door’, read on…

When fully implemented the Green Door Policy will see amendments to SPA which expand the Planning Minister’s power to issue ministerial directions to local governments at any time to fast track approvals where proposed developments exhibit exemplary sustainability features. This will be done by explicitly defining sustainable development as a ‘State interest’ under SPA. Amendments to SPA have not yet been proposed to implement this expanded power.

The Department will also designate ‘Sustainable Development Case Managers’ to provide a dedicated single entry point to government for all major sustainable development. This is intended to improve coordination of state agency approvals and advice, liaison with local governments and apparently ‘clear any roadblocks that arise’.

Who’s behind the Green Door?

A further component of the policy is the establishment of a Green Door Advisory Committee. The composition of the Committee was announced on Friday, 15 October 2010 and comprises:

  1. Green Building Council of Australia: Project Leader Mr Adam Beck
  2. Housing Industry Association Assistant: Director Mr Mike Roberts
  3. Local Government Association of Queensland: Mr Mark Piorkowski
  4. Planning Institute of Australia Queensland: Vice President Mr Greg Tupicoff
  5. Queensland Property Council of Australia: Policy and Advocacy Manager Johanna de Winter
  6. Queensland University of Technology, Centre for Subtropical Design: Director Ms Rosemary Kennedy, and
  7. Urban Development Institute of Australia: Chief Executive and General Counsel Mr Brian Stewart.

The purpose of the Committee is to:

  1. Recommend eligibility criteria for identifying Green Door projects
  2. Provide the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning with expert advice and guidance on the role of the Sustainable Development Case Manager in relation to particular projects and the use of the Ministerial IDAS powers
  3. Support the Sustainable Development Case Managers and assessment managers with technical and procedural advice
  4. Be responsible for monitoring the progress of selected projects, providing reports and making recommendations for progressing sustainable outcomes through Green Door in the future, and
  5. Provide advice on sustainability features and technologies that will assist the decision making process under SPA and IDAS.1

Green Door, what's that secret you're keepin'?

Given that the sustainability eligibility criteria are yet to be determined, it seems that the Green Door is still keeping some secrets. However, this is certainly an initiative worth watching and may result in benefits for certain future developments that might otherwise get caught up in the complexities of IDAS.