– Simon Wild – Cool Wall workshops foster knowledge sharing and a better green building industry

Residents near Glebe in Sydney’s inner west will be invited to be part of a “Cool Wall” workshop to flush out innovative sustainable ideas for a major urban redevelopment on the site of the Harold Park Paceway.

The workshop will strive to “uncover innovative, cutting edge green solutions” that will be presented to Sydney City Council in the hope that they are included in the final planning controls for the site.

But there are much bigger ambitions for the Cool Wall concept than a single project.

According to its originator, consulting engineering firm, Cundall, the Cool Wall could be a way to re-invigorate the entire green building movement, which critics say has stalled., with  an over-dependence on star ratings to prove sustainability and by the tendency for green innovation to be used as a competitive edge rather than for the benefit of the industry as a whole.

Cundall managing director, Simon Wild, said the Harold Park event is one of several that the company is running to stimulate more creative and innovative thinking around sustainable development within the property sector.

He describes the Cool Wall as a “knowledge sharing workshop” that is needed to re-invigorate thinking around sustainable buildings.

“From a business perspective, we realised there hasn’t been a collective view of the future of the green building movement. There have been many individual groups providing a vision, but there has been little collaboration.

“By taking the lead and promoting the sharing of knowledge for the collective benefit of the entire property industry we are contributing to the success of the sector as a whole, while having a positive effect on the environment for generations to come.

The Cool Wall brings together a range of stakeholders – from designers to owners and government representatives.

Cundall has held two so far – one across industry groups and another for architects.

Key is to discuss and rate 20 “defining elements” as significant or insignificant – such as climate change, mandated minimum performance of assets, large scale regeneration of existing stock, sustainable urban planning, attributing value to green buildings, oil price shock, performance rating systems and social sustainability.

The workshop then works out what the group thinks will happen, and what it wants to happen and a shared vision created.

Hopefully, the Cool Wall workshops will lead to better industry outcomes, Mr Wild said.

While the green building movement had been strongly positive “in some respects the movement has stalled,” he said.

“Existing technologies are being replicated on a macro basis and star rating systems justify a building’s green credentials.

“What we are trying to do is set the course for another momentum shift, in thinking and in practice, so that the industry can implement tangible measures with the goal of further reducing the impact on the environment.”

Cool wall for Glebe

At Glebe, the Cool Wall workshop for the Harold Park site will be “an engaging and thought provoking experience”, according to Cundall sustainable design engineer and local resident, Jesse Clarke.

“We will aim to identify and investigate solutions that go beyond common inclusions such as parklands, rainwater tanks and designs that maximise natural light, to uncover innovative, cutting edge green solutions that will help make the redevelopment more responsive and sensitive to environmental issues than any other urban renewal
project to date.

“The inclusion of a local food production facility on site to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with food transportation; providing a positive biodiversity impact on the site’s natural ecology; and targeting a zero waste community by a predetermined date are just three of the possibilities that will be investigated in terms
of significance and feasibility.

“Cundall will then take the findings back to council as a common view for a green future for the site,” he said.

Decisions stemming from the Cool Wall will be taken back to the Sydney City Council in the hope that they will influence the planning controls over the project, Mr Clarke said.

To find out more about the Glebe Cool Wall contact: j.clarke@cundall.com.au or on 0414 428 033

Notes on a Cool Wall

According to Cundall the purpose of the Cool Walls are to identify the “next generation of the green building movement”. Key points to this include:

  • The property industry in Australia has come a long way in recent times, responding to the challenge of creating a more sustainable sector by designing and developing some truly cutting edge buildings over the past five years.
  • However, sustainable solutions still manifest themselves on a company-by-company basis. In house sustainability teams strive to uncover new techniques and products to gain advantage over competitors.
  • This naturally limits the potential for sustainability to more effectively permeate the entire industry, for the good of everyone and for the good of the environment.
  • Cundall, has responded by introducing a knowledge sharing forum – known as the Cool Wall workshops – to create a collective vision of where the built environment will be in the next five years.
  • Cundall Managing Director Simon Wild says: “Over the next decade a company’s success will be determined, more than ever before, by its continued  response to the demands and opportunities of a carbon intensive and resource constrained world.”
  • “We realised that there hasn’t been a collective view of the future of the green building movement. There have been many individual groups or councils providing a vision, but there has been little cooperation or collaboration.”
  • “By taking the lead and promoting the sharing of knowledge for the collective benefit of the entire industry we are contributing to the success of the sector as a whole, while having a positive effect on the environment for generations to come,” he said.

WORKSHOPPING SUSTAINABILITY

  • Cool Wall workshops include a range of industry stakeholders, including designers, owners, builders, government and others to participate in identifying and defining the next generation of the green building
  • movement.
  • By discussing and rating 20 defining elements as significant or insignificant, the workshops investigate two avenues – what the group thinks will happen (the “business as usual” case) and what participants want to happen (the “aspirational” case).
  • Some of the elements and issues considered for their impact as part of the workshops include: climate change, mandated minimum performance of assets, large scale regeneration of existing stock, sustainable urban planning, attributing value to green buildings, oil price shock, performance rating systems and social sustainability.
  • Cundall will then undertake cross stakeholder scenario planning workshops with industry representatives to highlight the differences between the two cases and, more importantly, create a vision of what the industry as a whole can do to ensure what happens is what we collectively want to happen.
  • The results of the workshops and the scenario planning of the two cases will then be collated and presented by Cundall to the industry, communicating the desires of the various industry stakeholders.


OUTCOMES SO FAR

  • Cundall has run two Cool Wall workshops to date – one with a cross section of stakeholders from various industry groups, and one for architects.
  • Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive: participants have found the process engaging and informative and it has forced them to focus on future trends.
  • One scenario to come out of the workshops so far is the likelihood of climactic change events actually playing out within the next five years, and the potential impact this could have on our built environment, particularly if witnessed by people or government officials in positions of power.
  • • The impact of the cost of oil has been a recurring theme. For example, as the price of oil rises, transport costs rise, distribution channels are affected, the ramifications spread to urban design and inevitably the property sector is impacted. Will we see an end to urban sprawl in larger cities, replaced by concentrated development around transport hubs in established or new locations?
  • The impact of enhanced tenant awareness has also been investigated in the workshops. Over the next five years, there is expected to be a greater emphasis placed on actual performance as opposed to design performance as more and more tenant briefs will stipulate the need for maximum indoor environment quality ratings. There is already evidence of this taking place.
  • The difficulty in obtaining debt finance for new building projects, precipitated by the economic crisis experienced globally over the past 12 months, has placed the emphasis on the regeneration of existing building stock. This is expected to continue over the next five years and will require architects, builders and owners to drive sustainable solutions from a predetermined base.


BRINGING FORTH THE NEXT GENERATION

  • Cundall is planning to run more Cool Wall single stakeholder workshops across the industry over the next six months, as well as a larger, whole-of-industry event to be run as a “world cafe style” workshop to gain a greater depth of dialogue.
  • “The green building movement has encouraged a more responsible approach from the industry and has defined the future of the property sector. Nevertheless, while new techniques and technologies are always under development, in some respects the movement has stalled,” Mr Wild said.
  • “Existing technologies are being replicated on a macro basis and star rating systems justify a building’s green credentials.”
  • “What we are trying to do is set the course for another momentum shift, in thinking and in practice, so that the industry can implement tangible measures with the goal of further reducing the impact on the environment,” he said.

See what buildings in your neighbourhood are rated by NABERS and Green Star at the Cundall site