Cecille Weldon

9 August 2012 ­ Head of sustainability for LJ Hooker Cecille Weldon said the company’s first seminar based on its new sustainability website was held in Canberra, on 22 July, for two important reasons.

The first was a commitment by every LJ Hooker office and broker in the region to join the company’s 3Ps Project, which monitors the use of power, paper and petrol, simultaneously reducing overheads and lowering the impact on the environment.

“Our offices need to be walking the talk so we don’t put on a seminar until every office in the region has signed up to the 3Ps Project – and the ACT were one of the first using it as a region,” Ms Weldon said.

The second was because the territory is the only one in Australia where home energy ratings are mandatory and must be disclosed when selling or leasing a new property.

Ms Weldon said while the ACT scheme was based around the built structure, LJ Hooker was lobbying for a uniform national home energy ratings scheme for Australia taking into account the built structure, appliances and user behaviour.

“That would be optimal,” she said. “Less optimal would be anything piecemeal, or state by state.”

The Liveability seminar attracted 250 home owners, renters, landlords and investors who wanted to find out how their homes could be more sustainable.

Speakers included  academic and practising sustainable building expert Chris Reardon talking about “Sustainability homes for the future: challenges, solutions, flexibility and innovation”, Ecostore chief executive officer and co-founder Malcolm Rands on “Creating a healthy home” and Bond University’s Institute of Sustainable Development and Architecture Associate Professor Stuart McAuliffe with “A new approach to Australian residential property value”.

A table of experts were also on hand to answer individual queries.

Ms Weldon said LJ Hooker wanted, and was well placed, to empower consumers to make decisions that were right for themselves, in a sustainable way, to live the life they wanted.

“There are barriers to consumers to know who to go to for advice and how to make changes to be more efficient in the home,” she said.

“Often when they are looking for a guide they are actually asking someone who wants to sell something to them.

“They can get bits and pieces but the hard part is to pull it all together. We are doing the hard work for them and for the first time they can come to one location for the right advice.”

Ms Weldon said the seminar, which was free, focused on how to capitalise on existing properties “because the greenest building is one that already exists”, how to reduce energy and water costs and what to look for when buying a new property.

“It’s also about building a community of organisations which are coming together for the sake of the consumer to make sense of sustainability and find common ground,” she said.

“And the big message is that the new sustainability journey is moving from purely efficiency and cost savings to healthier living. Healthy and efficient at the same time.

“We called it ‘liveability’ because in terms of sustainability we tend to talk about the built structure but don’t talk about it being a more liveable home. People want to enjoy being home.

“We felt there was a need for consumers to also have the chance rethink, in terms of their dream home, about what they can control. We have seen people with airconditioning and pools and they can’t afford to use them. They can’t control the price of power but they can do other things which are right for them.

Ms Weldon said LJ Hooker was working with Bond University to create a Residential Property Liveability Index which would help turn anecdotal evidence about the uptake of sustainability measures into fact.

More seminars were planned around the country but dates were yet to be locked in, she said.