Maria Atkinson

23 August 2012 – Lend Lease global head of sustainability Maria Atkinson has stepped down after six years in the role and a total of 11 years with the company, to pursue new professional interests.

Atkinson, an environmental scientist by training, has been at the forefront of the sustainability revolution in the Australian property industry.

At Sydney’s “Green” Olympics, credited with kickstarting the movement, Atkinson was environment manager for Lend Lease, influencing key projects, the Olympic Village and hotel developments.

She then co-founded the Green Building Council of Australia and became its first chief executive officer.

Atkinson re-joined Lend Lease in 2006 and commenced working on more global strategic initiatives, not just within the company but externally, to influence the global sustainability environment.

Key roles included to plan, measure and report on the organisation’s sustainability performance, to advocate for higher industry standards more broadly and to pursue and capitalise on business opportunities in sustainability.

In 2010 Atkinson was appointed managing director for Lend Lease’s consulting business, Sustainability Solutions.

Under her leadership at Lend Lease the company was included for the first time on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2001 and reinstated in 2006. From 2006 it maintained membership of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and achieved best score in its industry group.

It became a signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment and in 2008 led the push for the development of global indicators for the Real Estate and Construction sector under the Global Reporting Initiative framework.

In 2010 Lend Lease was the only Australian company in all three sustainability indexes: Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, Goldman Sachs Climate Leadership Index and the World Economic Forum’s Global 100 – world’s most sustainable corporations.

Lend Lease also won the 2010 Australia’s Ethical Investor’s Sustainable Company of the Decade award.

In January this year Atkinson was awarded the Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) for “service to the construction and real estate sector, particularly as a leader and contributor to environmentally sustainable building development in Australia”.

Her board and advisory roles include Global Foundation; St James Ethics Centre Foundation; City of Sydney Design Advisory Panel; NSW Climate Change Council; CSIRO Climate Change Adaptation Flagship Stakeholder Advisory Group; UTS Business School Advisory Board; US Studies Centre Council of Advisors; 1 million women ambassador.

Atkinson’s departure is another in a series of changes at the senior levels of leading property companies that show no signs of letting up.