Geoff Gourley

6 July 2012 – Former ISIS executive Geoff Gourley, a builder, designer, sustainability consultant and social entrepreneur, believes his personal investment to take a shareholding in retrofit start-up NuGreen Solutions is a winner.

Founded by Paul McMurtrie, who also owns Nuvo-Urban group, NuGreen has six partners including Campbell Walker, (son of Ron Walker), Sam Furphy and now Gourley.

Gourley, who will be director sustainability integration for the group, says the company is well poised to capitalise on what it sees as the coming boom in building retrofits.

In a conversation with The Fifth Estate, Gourley reveals the group’s plans are far from wishful thinking. The company has shored up financial backing from no less than Macquarie Bank and Westpac to the tune of $200 million.

And it expects a commensurate healthy turnover.

“Indicative turnover in the first 12 months we’re hoping for is $10-20 million; in the second year, maybe $20-40 million,” Gourley says.

The optimistic view carries through to the industry as a whole.

“I would think in the next 12 months there will be $1-2 billion in new work.”

He points to major retrofit projects already underway, such as Casseldon Place, 35 Collins Street, and 600 Bourke Street in Melbourne.

Gourley says the sector now is all “about project generation”.

It’s been slow to develop because clients have been “a little undereducated about the benefits. But now when you come and explain it they say, ‘yes, come and do it’”, he says.

“We’re getting a lot of head nodding from the CEO. And as quick as we can scale up we’re delivering that work.”

Energy efficiency incentives are a driver, but even so the money savings available from simple lighting retrofits with LEDS are impressive, he says.

Work the company already has underway includes energy efficiency lighting retrofits for companies such as Toll Group, with its vast array of indoor and outdoor lighting needs at its national transport facilities, Anglicare with a stage-one audit completed and now ready to move to implementation of a program over its 100 of its sites, Crown Casio and Crown Promenade hotel, a pilot project for 287-railway stations in Melbourne, and two universities.

A sector that Gourley says is ripe for energy efficiency is the hotel sector. “They have so many lights and in the end the user ­– the operator – will benefit.”

The company is growing. It has 12 staff, with two appointed recently and plans to add another 10 by year’s end.

“We’re expanding pretty quickly and will soon be in Perth,” he says.

Gourley’s background includes “20 years in property and sustainability” including growing up in the shadow of the Loy Yang power station in Victoria, which galvanised his commitment.

He has a postgraduate diploma in business administration, bachelor of design and has a number of sustainability leadership achievements.

In his new role, he says, he will not only advise on project strategy but be able to assist clients with sourcing grants and other incentives such as energy savings certificates.

Gourley hopes the states and territories will soon rationalise the various energy savings schemes and incentives, following moves by Queensland, Victoria and NSW to consolidate national schemes by the start of next year.