Matthew Trigg

17 January 2013 –  If you listened to Matthew Trigg the Facility Management Association of Australia is set for explosive growth in relevance if not necessarily numbers. A nice drawcard for the new policy officer that Trigg is currently searching for to replace himself when he leaves that role in March after two and a half years.

Two and a half years? “Not bad for a Gen Y” he laughs.

At 29 Trigg is a man in a hurry. He’s notched up some interesting gigs already.

At the Australian Conservation Foundation, to where he was enticed by Monica Richter, Trigg was manager of the Sustainable Cities Index, which attracted “massive media success” at the Built Environment Meets Parliament summit in 2010.

In another role at the City of Port Phillip he helped initiate the massive solar installation about to be launched atop the South Melbourne Market. Not to mention architectural work in Sydney with Anchor Mortlake and Woolley on the Queen Victoria Building and with Rice Daubney at Rouse Hill, north west of Sydney.

Trigg has also been busy with academia, notching up three degrees, one in architecture from Deakin University, plus a Masters of Public Policy and Management from the  University of Melbourne and another masters on the Built Environment, Sustainable Development from the University of NSW.

And he sits on the board of Beyond Zero Emissions.

Trigg left architecture because the quality of work often left him disappointed.

“It did my head in… most of the work is not good architecture.” Instead he moved to the policy arena where he felt he could have a bigger impact in his chosen field.

The FMA, he said, was “not quite” what he expected in terms of rigorous professional standards.

It’s a relatively new profession, he’s quick to point out – even the description of roles varies tremendously.

However, he says it’s well on the way to reaching a new level of professional standards, especially under the guidance of its chief executive Nicholas Burt, for whom Trigg has generous praise, especially for his “drive”.

“Very recently it started to change and do serious research. And Nicholas (Burt) as a boss is amazing. I actually don’t want to leave my job.”

FM has a huge future, he says. “It’s where the Property Council was 10-15 years ago, and it’s next in line [for a major lift].”

It’s where the policy work is starting to focus – for a huge number of issues, such as energy efficiency and health and safety, Trigg says.

There is also a new body of research to deepen professional standards and more on the way.

This includes an industry census that is about to be released, a good practice guide for careers, on building information,software systems, salaries, and soon on office environments and energy.

There was also a survey of  B and C grade office buildings conducted for Sustainability Victoria which, however, has not been publicly released.

A standard practice guide on careers and competencies is due in a few months, as well as a survey on hygiene issues, Trigg says.

“And like everyone else we’ve prepared our federal budget submissions for the energy efficiency information grants.”

Still, FM has a long way to go before it reaches the “sexy” status of professions such as architecture, Trigg admits. “It’s not going to feature on the nightly news.”

Architecture by contrast is ancient; Trigg’s favourite book on architecture is  Vetrivus’ De Architectura, he says.

Sure FM has a branding challenge, but the nonetheless it packs a punch in terms of the market clout of some of its leaders – companies such as United, now merged with DTZ and using the DTZ branding in Australia, the newly merged Brookfield Multiplex Services and Johnson Controls Workplace Services, and Jones Lang LaSalle, for which FM is part of a bigger company picture.

Green will continue to be an important part of FM, Trigg says.

“We have to be serious about green. We’re sector partners for Green Cities and for Green Star Performance.”

Trigg is uncertain what his next job will be; but he’s fairly sure it will be in the built environment and have a strong green flavour, if he can help it.

What’s very certain is the location, Germany.

Why Germany?

“I’m attracted to its architecture, its building culture; the way they go about doing things. The Germans don’t think in words, they think in sentences. They think how the sentence is going to end up.”

That thinking permeates how Germans go about creating things, Trigg says, “they know what the finished product will be before they even start.”

No, there’s no hidden agenda of a partner or family connections, unless you count the great great great grandmother. But Trigg has made sure his German is now to professional standard.

In his spare time, Trigg writes for the UK based Urban Times…and yes…he’s promised to consider being Berlin correspondent for The Fifth Estate.