Leonardo DiCaprio

On picking up stumps and stomping off the carbon pitch…even movie stars get

25 January 2013 – A scoot around the office markets with Knight Frank national director John Preece to pick up on sentiment for activity this year shows human nature kicking in, with quite a few business tired of “sitting on their hands and getting on with it.”

That’s how recessions end, a wise observer once said: people eventually get bored doing not much and sooner or later take their money out of the bank, or start work on their new projects.

Preece, who has access to sentiment from both owners and tenants in his work nationally, says it’s still a patchy outlook for office activity, with Brisbane by far the worst as Premier Campbell Newman goes on his merry wrecking ball way [our comment] sacking 4000 public servants and promising another 16,000 jobs would go.]

On sustainability, Preece says the message is getting through to landlords and many tenants want to be seen to be “doing the right thing”. They buy the right materials, put in energy efficiency measures and make sure their staff know about it. But they don’t always get the Green Star ratings.

The problem he says is that whether you’ve got a 1000  square metre office space or 10,000 sq m, the cost of certification  is pretty well the same –around the $100,000 mark.

The Green Building Council says it’s working on streamlining the certification process and bringing costs down. GBCA’s Robin Mellon says cost also varies significantly between a 4 star rating and a 6 star for instance and it also depends where you are and what consultants you can tap into.

Watch for an announcement at Green Cities 2013 in March.

The news gets better

We’re seeing great breaking news on an almost daily basis – businesses from all walks of life pulling up stumps and stomping off the carbon pitch, declaring they just don’t want to play there anymore.

The HVAC revolution gets it

This week the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Airconditioning and Heating teamed with hundreds of their disparate colleagues in all areas of their industry and  launched the start of a roadmap to a low emissions future, tackling the most controversial of problems head on.

Such as: passive design for buildings and the potential conflict of interest for consultants.

And how to deal with leases that call for set operating hours or temperatures for airconditioning, such as found in the Property Council of Australia’s quality office matrix.The catalyst for this massive challenge, says chief executive Phil Wilkinson, was the furore generated last year by the government levy on synthetic refrigerants to replace those more harmful to the environment.

It was baptism of fire and culminated in Wilkinson and his chief operating officer Neil Cox making an appearance before the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and many mentions in Hansard and loads of media exposure, some of it quite sensational

No wonder this team is now ready to take on bigger things.

The capital markets get it

In news that went viral this week UBS said in its seminal report, “The unsubsidised solar revolution” that “solar has turned from a heavily-subsidised marginal technology into a mainstream source of power generation.” And:

“We are at the beginning of a new era in power markets. Sharply decreasing costs for solar panels and batteries, combined with rising electricity tariffs, make solar viable without any subsidies in several key European markets, such as Germany, Spain and Italy. In those countries, the installation of solar panels is expected to reduce the owners’ electricity bills by more than what the solar system costs.

“The economics work in both the private household and commercial segment. Hence, there is a vast opportunity for unsubsidised solar, even though certain financial and technical limitations will leave some potential untapped. Battery solutions, which are at the beginning of a steep learning curve, can increase returns further and accelerate the demand destruction for utilities.

We’ll bring you more on this report that is not available on line. So thanks to UBS for sending us a copy and to Renew Economy for first finding it. Stay posted.

Retail gets it

Leon Gettler has a ripper of a story in his regular Green MashUP on the changes under way in the retail industry. An explosion in farmers markets worldwide points to the same fundamental shift in consumer preferences that’s driving the business world to a more genuine and responsible offerings.

Mall owners and retailers alike are struggling to find ways to adapt. It’s all about relationships, experiences and placemaking, Gettler finds. Sounds a lot like the high streets of old.

Movie stars get it

Leonaro DiCaprio announced this week he would take time off making movies to concentrate on his passion for the environment. In 2010 he donated $1 million  to earthquake relief efforts and another $1 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Politics is starting to get it

At the international level we’ve seen the “leader of the free world” utter the words climate change and sustainable energy all in the same breath.

And then go on to say the US needs to lead on this challenge.

Let’s not underestimate the power of that sentiment, uttered at Barack Obama’s second inauguration as US President however late in the day it is for a road to Damascus awakening.

In Oz, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is already sidestepping his “absolute crap” comment on climate change.

And this week he Fed’s Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Mark Dreyfus helpfully provided a transcript of a radio interview on Thursday that claimed Abbott said:

“Like President Obama, the Coalition in government will take direct action measures to try to reduce emissions such as planting more trees, improving our soils, using smarter technologies. So, President Obama and I are very much on the same page when it comes to dealing with climate change.”

Yes, it’s late in the day, but as they say in India, “Anything is possible”