The secret life of tenants. See what The Campbell Scholtens team say about the secret life of tenants. Pictured: L to R: Ian Campbell, Emily Funnell, Anne-Maree Mitford, Daniel Scholtens

On buildings, tenants, evolution and devolution

8 August 2013 – While Canberra launched its own big event for 7 September, we’ve been getting along to quite a few events, conferences and summits held by the ever expanding sectors in this industry.

In Victoria Donna Kelly covered the BIM-MEP Construction Innovation Forum last week, The Australian Smart Lighting Summit 2013 this week and next week (all going according to plan) she will get to the Future of HVAC conference – that’s heating ventilation and airconditioning for the uninitiated – held by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating.

In Sydney this week we caught some of the Renewable Cities panel event held by City of Sydney during the day, ahead of a wider public meeting for which about 1000 people have registered.

And we’ve had our own big event, albeit virtual.

That’s the launch of Chapter 2 of our Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness, which we’re publishing in collaboration with the Better Buildings Partnership.

Judging by the thousands of hits we’re getting, this has been a badly needed resource.

And this is encouraging for other books we’re planning.

Chapter 2 has some great insights into the mind of the tenant.

Campbell Scholtens, which has been surveying and mapping the nation’s tenant sentiments – mostly under the radar – for several years now, has finally consented to come in from the cold and share some of their learning.

We’re hoping to prise more from this interesting team in the coming period.Stay tuned. And why not send along some of your own stores of insights into the secret life of tenants?

We think this could well be the Lasseter’s Reef of secret property business. And it’s so much fun.

Tenants

Speaking of tenants, when you think about it, they are so central to the job of greening our building and cities and yet so hard to reach.

That’s why it’s such good news this week that Net Balance Foundation, in a new partnership with CitySwitch, has won a cool $1 million in Federal government funding to expand its reach to tenants beyond the big capital city CBDs into smaller CBDs and regional areas.

It was such a shame to see the Brisbane CitySwitch program slammed shut by the anti-green short-termism of the current state government.

Another area to lose funding was the suburbs around South Melbourne when the City of Port Phillip withdrew minuscule funding for the program and majority funding from Sustainability Victoria came to an end.

The good news is that one of the three new staff appointed by Net Balance for the program Alex Stathakis will be based in Brisbane. Yes, it’s Fightback. And Jeff Elliott who was deposed in the City of Port Phillip shutdown is also back on board with the program through Net Balance. Sydney will gain the third new staffer,  Christina Hughes.

What’s really interesting about CitySwitch, though, is that it’s hitting the greening revolution from the tenant space. Most of the green building revolution has concentrated on the buildings, whereas you can say that CitySwitch concentrates on the people inside the building, and they are the ones that can add loads of kilowatt hours

Esther Bailey

According to Esther Bailey of the City of Sydney, who runs the national program, CitySwitch has been running since 2006 but it’s always struggled to reach beyond the big major CBDs.

“It’s been nominally national,” Bailey says, “but if you exist outside of Melbourne or Sydney it’s difficult to service and justify this to your ratepayers.

“We’ve done our best,” she says.

“This partnership with Net Balance enables us to go truly national bringing in whole networks and also to extend service offerings to suburban and regional offices.”

The program will expand its scope to other elements of sustainability such as lighting, behavioural change, procurement and waste.

Waste is something we’ve noticed is of increasing concern.

Some people say a lot of tenants want to be part of recycling programs but that there is scepticism about whether the recycled waste is going to where the owners say it’s going.

GPT’s Bruce Precious recently told the Green Building Day event held by the Green Building Council of Australia that his company had sourced new waste contractors because of suspicions about these issues.

(As with all any such items, let us know if you can contribute either by way of understanding of what’s going on or what needs to change. Details below)

The really exciting part of the new look CitySwitch program, Bailey says, is that it can leverage the tools and information garnered through work with the big companies and pass them onto smaller companies outside of the big CBDs or in regional areas.

This might come through the other addition to the CitySwitch box and dice – a program to foster vertical communities. Why didn’t someone think of it before? Here are all these people, plus the office managers and property managers all occupying a building, all separately working out their sustainability issues. Some networking could work wonders in resolving roadblocks to greener offices and related issues.

In breaking news, Bailey has announced an addition to the popular awards held at the end of the year – for partnering.

This is about levering the work and tools and know how that the big corporates can achieve with their bigger budgets and spread it around.

“Because we want to catalyse change,” Bailey says.

And yes, Bailey is a fan of the creative commons concept for sustainability.

“It all comes back to the concept of evolution. We need to evolve and we need to evolve fast and the more you throttle information back into the few, the more you throttle your ability to move further faster.”

Sounds good.

Down with IP we say. (Intellectual property, which by default wants to keep everyone else dumb, or brown.) Hmmm.

We love what Cundall’s Simon Wild said when he spoke of his intent to share IP. In years gone by you could count on having a two or three year advantage with breakthroughs; these days thanks to the internet you can count on six months at best, so why not share and get known as a leader?

City of Sydney’s Renewable Cities forum

City of Sydney’s Renewable Cities – sun, soil, wind and waste

The key theme of this event was again the frustration with the regulations that prevent hooking up renewable energy to the grid, the cost of doing so and how silly this was starting look in the face of the massive and rapid take up of renewable energy – not to mention property owners with idle trigen engines cold in their basements.

The figures for Australian domestic solar are immense – one million roofs now glint in the midday sun, the latest figures say.

And who could have predicted this a mere three years ago?

You don’t have to strain hard to remember how every learned or financial person in the land nodded gravely, and said, yes this could solve our energy problems but affordable solar was a long way off and probably would not arrive in our useable lifetimes.

Today in the US it’s “no money down,” pay-as-you-go, according to Sungevity founder Danny Kennedy, and a “massive uptake”.

The City of Sydney’s Allan Jones pointed to Denmark.

“The Danes aren’t any greener than anyone else,” he said.

“The government there made anyone within a two kilometre radius of a windfarm entitled to buy up to 50 per cent of the shareholding.”

Oliver Yates

No strange headaches and weird noises in the head there.

And with returns of 7.5 per cent, wind power was actually putting a smile on people’s faces.

The barriers to funding the bigger scale plants could of course also be breached by a large demonstration project that could ease the continuing furrowed brows of the financiers.

Key was how quickly the markets have transformed.

The need was to accept distributed energy generation and for this to stop being treated as if the energy was generated in the Hunter Valley.

If you want to get energy from the grid you could do it in a “nano second” said chief executive of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Oliver Yates, but there were enormous hurdles if you wanted to send energy back the other way.

What was needed, he said was a “fundamental change of the grid looking at itself as a trading platform rather than a revenue generating mechanism”.

Yates said the industry needed to identify the problems, the congestion issues and so on, so that solutions could be found.

The big news for solar panel owners was that domestic solar energy storage batteries at affordable prices could arrive as soon as the end of the year.

Things are going faster and better than we anticipated said Jones, “mainly because of China now soaking up some of their oversupply [with solar]”.

Within a year or two it would not make financial sense to build a coal fired power, station he said.

It’s a red flag to the coal industry and the Australian government, he said.

China needed to move to gas and renewables, and pollution was driving this, he said. People were dying in their thousands.