The change in climate

change – beyond buildings

by Tina Perinotto

Imagine this: you green your building, your home, your car. Then you go right back to 60-70 hour working week, rushing, running to meet deadlines, never having time to linger in the morning sunlight, chatting to neighbours, looking after your health, and barking at the cabin crew because you didn’t get your vegetarian sausages.

Maybe greening the buildings is just the start.

If you can feel the winds of change going somewhere further than buildings you could be right.

If you want to give yourself shivers, watch this video on Paul Hawken, https://www.blessedunrest.com/video.html

This video is all about change and based on his book, Blessed Unrest, How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. (Viking Press New York)  Try to ignore the over-long title and the religious overtones. The man may actually have an excellent point.

All around the world he says, are the most diverse, un-connected, un-named, leaderless movements, un-rooted to any particular location that have one thing in common, they are all working for environmental and social justice.

The backdrop to the video is a screen with a long list of names rolling through like credits – 130,00 organisations, all part of this movement, but there could be more.

Maybe what happened in St Leonards on Sydney’s north shore on Monday night (1 June) this week could be part of the movement. Twenty people, meeting as individuals, not as representatives of their major property company employers (such as Jones Lang LaSalle, Stockland and Lend Lease), to toss challenging ideas around about how to re-envision the green building movement.

In Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, similar groups are meeting with the same thing in mind.

At St Leonards the meeting took the form of a World Cafe – groups of four people sitting around small café tables complete with red and white check table cloths drinks and nibbles, supplied by host Simon Wild at his Cundall offices.

Simon Carter, a sustainability consultant, moderated. Elena Bondareva, the enthusiastic young woman who started it all after some soul searching at the Green Cities conference in March, standing patiently and attentively to one side.

So what is the driver? What could these people want when there are so many organisations and outlets open to green building development or redevelopment?

Wherever you look it seems that Adam Smith’s invisible hand of capitalism is now coloured green and tingeing everything with the need to save the planet – whether in reality or token greenwash.

On Wednesday night, even the industrial crowd in Sydney got together at a Property Council function to hear about the new Green Star tool for the big sheds, with Australand’s general manager, Reini Otter, talking about the market leadership value of going green that transcends the current short term financially-driven retreat from the movement.

Interestingly, even the valuers could be on the cusp of a major shift, according to one of the attendees who privately said later that she believed the profession may need to recognise the inter-connectedness of so many new factors into its process if it was to stay abreast of the challenges presented by climate change.

In our pages we have contributors constantly challenging us to have news ways of engineering our thinking and systems. Greg Paine with his thoughtful series on the literature and theories of sustainability, Liz Morgan with turning our roofs and community spaces into edible gardens, which in the meantime reconnect neighbours and communities, Simon Carter with his “U” theory of change which has powerfully transformed companies such as Dove soap manufacturer. Romilly Madew with the need to expand the greening of buildings to entire cities.

The list goes on.

What people want from Monday night’s meeting is not yet clear.

People attending were still fumbling gently for their objectives and directions – intelligently, politely, a little shyly at first then gaining confidence, and before long with the spark of passion.

Of course greening buildings makes sense, but what if this becomes simply another target to add into individual key performance indicators, to be ticked off – goal achieved, onto the next thing?

Beyond these shifts and meetings and random talk what could emerge is that no longer does it seem sufficient to be talking about the need for change but the “how” to of change in a far more subtle and qualitative sense.

And here it gets really interesting. Because the “how” may not be just about greener buildings.

At least not any more.