New development’s green star rating at risk

Posted on July 27, 2011. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods |

One of Sydney’s “greenest” new building developments – No 1 Central Park on Broadway – is using rainforest timber logged in Malaysia, putting its advertised “five green star” rating at risk.

Tonnes of plywood from a mill in Sarawak, Malaysia, is being used to help build the concrete foundations of the complex, which developer Frasers Property said would “achieve the highest possible environmental rating for the entire precinct”.

But the wood is not certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council or the Program for the Enforcement of Forest Certification – the two organisations which verify whether a logging operation can be regarded as sustainable.

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Central Park may not live up to its five-star promiseCentral Park Sydney

The Green Buildings Council of Australia, which controls a building’s “green star” rating, requires a project to use timber certified by one of these agencies if it is to achieve timber credits under a five star rating.

Photographs of the wood being used on the site showed a logo that was traced back to the Baramas mill in Sarawak.

The mill has been associated with serious breaches of sustainable logging practices over the past two years. Investigations by Malaysia’s auditor-general and environment groups found that trees had been cut down in an area slated for a national park, protected species habitat had been logged, and other logging in banned areas had caused water pollution.

Artist's impressions of the One Central Park development in Chippendale. Click for more photos

One Central Park

Artist’s impressions of the One Central Park development in Chippendale.

  • Artist's impressions of the One Central Park development in Chippendale.
  • Aerial view of the how the development will look.
  • Artist's impressions of the One Central Park development in Chippendale.

Watpac, the construction company building the Broadway development for Frasers Property, sourced the wood from Australian Wood Panels, a distributor which is wholly owned by Malaysian logging company Samling.

Australian Wood Panels labels its wood “Legal & Sustainable Malaysian Resource”. It does hold Forestry Stewardship Council for some of its activities, but not for the wood it supplied Watpac for use in No 1 Central Park.

Frasers Property said it was determined to make the development sustainable and meet the five green star criteria if possible.

“To date Frasers have understood that the timber used at Central Park complied with the Green Building Council of Australia’s requirements for 5 Green Star certification,” said a spokeswoman for the company.

“If this proves not to be the case, we will immediately instruct Watpac to address the issue.”

The Green Building Council said it would assess the No 1 Central Park development on its environmental merits.

“If No 1 Central Park can demonstrate that the timber used in the project has been certified by either FSC or PEFC, it will be awarded the appropriate points under the Green Star Timber credit,” the chief executive of the Green Building Council, Romilly Madew, said in a statement.

“If it cannot demonstrate compliance, it will not.”

Greenpeace forestry campaigner Reece Turner said sourcing sustainable timber is a minefield.

“It is simply a matter of making sure they seek documentation of certification for the source of the product, not simply rely on a company that says it is certified, especially with timber that comes from a tropical rainforest,” Mr Turner said.

“I think this highlights exactly why the government needs to bring in laws to stop the worst of these timbers coming into Australia in the first place.”

There is an estimated $800 million worth of imported unsustainable timber sold in Australia each year. The government is developing legislation for tightening rules around illegal timber exports.

Greenpeace and other environment groups are calling for border checks for timber imports, a ban on unsustainable timber imports, and more resources for policing.


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