Pooran Desai

8 November 2012 — Co-founder of Bioregional and One Planet Living, Pooran Desai, is in Australia to help spread the message about One Planet Living, a free set of principles for development and other enterprises that make sustainable calls on the planet’s resources.

Speaking this week and next, with training courses running alongside, in Melbourne and Sydney, Desai is here to win people over to the methods that were first developed the design, construction and monitoring of BedZED, Britain’s sustainable community Beddington Zero Emission Development.

BioRegional Australia director Ed Cotter said there were a number of developments which were working towards One Planet Living accreditation.

Already One Planet has gathered interest from Lend Lease, which says it has adopted One Planet’s10 principles for its Barangaroo project in Sydney, but not registered for certification,  from Cundall worldwide, which is the first consultancy to register, and WestWyck in Melbourne, the pioneering sustainable housing project set up by Mike Hill and Lorna Pitt.

One Planet Living’s 10 principles are designed to provide a framework to make sustainable living easy and affordable.

The 10 principles are:

  • Zero carbon – Making buildings more energy efficient and delivering all energy with renewable technologies.
  • Zero waste – Reducing waste, reusing where possible, and ultimately sending zero waste to landfill.
  • Sustainable transport – Encouraging low carbon modes of transport to reduce emissions, reducing the need to travel.
  • Sustainable materials – Using sustainable healthy products, with low embodied energy, sourced locally, made from renewable or waste resources.
  • Local and sustainable food – Choosing low impact, local, seasonal and organic diets and reducing food waste.
  • Sustainable water – Using water more efficiently in buildings and in the products we buy; tackling local flooding and water course pollution.
  • Land use and wildlife – Protecting and restoring biodiversity and natural habitats through appropriate land use and integration into the built environment.
  • Culture and community – Reviving local identity and wisdom; supporting and participating in the arts.
  • Equity and local economy – Creating bioregional economies that support fair employment, inclusive communities and international fair trade.
  • Health and happiness – Encouraging active, sociable, meaningful lives to promote good health and wellbeing.

At Barangaroo BioRegional had worked with Lend Lease, the developer of Barangaroo’s first stage, to draw up a One Planet Action Plan, which included a number of the 10 possible targets. These included a zero carbon site, 75 per cent reduction in energy demand and 87 per cent diversion of waste from landfill, Mr Cotter said.

Head of sustainability at Barangaroo South Anita Mitchell said this week that for “various reasons” the development had decided to follow the One Planet principles but to seek registration under the Clinton Climate Initiative for its international ratings profile.

WestWyck EcoVillage
WestWyck EcoVillage in Brunswick, Melbourne, was on track to become the first endorsed One Planet Community in Australia, Mr Cotter said.

The development occupies the buildings and grounds of the former Brunswick West Primary School. WestWyck EcoVillage developers, Mike Hill, a former mayor of Brunswick, and Lorna Pitt, wanted to create a demonstration of sustainable development and high quality urban design.

The Australian tour for Desai includes two free public lectures on his first hand knowledge of the design, construction and monitoring of BedZED which led to the development of the concept of One Planet Living.

The first lecture was held in Sydney on 7 November and and th second will be in Melbourne on 16 November.

Mr Desai will also join diners at a Deep Dinner along with other sustainability thought leaders as part of the tour, scheduled for Melbourne on 15 November.

See this website for details www.oneplanetliving.eventbrite.com.au

Cundall director in the UK David Clark and Australia chief executive officer iSimon Wild, said the business signed up to One Planet in order to push the boundaries of sustainability further and to set a challenge to clients and the rest of the industry.

Clark, during a visit to Australia last week provided a briefing to guests at the company’s North Sydney offices to explain the One Planet commitment.

In a telephone interview after the event Clark and Wild were keen to stress that One Planet was not another rating system.

“It’s a long term commitment whereby the company sets goals and establishes a path to get there,” Clark said.

The company had won a number of accolades for sustainability in the business and in its projects but now the commitment was about “giving a shape” to the more sustainable business processes of the company, Clark said.

“Sustainability is very vague word. We need a framework that we can use to define what we think is sustainability and we need to challenge ourselves to go further than we’re doing already.”

And it’s a personal commitment.

The company’s 30 partners have all signed up “to a bit of paper”, Clark said. “The policy has everyone’s signature on it.”

In the UK, Wild explained, the company was more focused on engineering; in Australia it was more focused on sustainability consulting. Now the worldwide operations have “green teams” to get staff more engaged, rather than relying on management. And also to spread influence beyond the company itself.

In the company’s Manchester offices, Clark said, this manifested in some wider influence over the building’s management.

“After twisting the landlord’s arm” to find a spot for a worm farm, said Clark, the Cundall team was able to influence the landlord to incorporate some energy efficiency measures.

Among the One Planet commitment is a plan to achieve zero carbon by 2025. It also requires writing an action plan, a review by BioRegional, and then “you have a bit of negotiation to challenge you to go further”, Clark said.

In the office a lot revolves around procurement. “They’re asking clients to go beyond minimum compliance, to go further.

“Saying you’re carbon neutral and buying some credits is no longer enough.”

“It’s not easy.” Clark said. “It’s also got to be relevant to your business. And it’s not a check list.”

Wild said that in Australia, the business was already pursuing several of the elements.

But the point of the commitment was to “continue to push the boundaries and demonstrate leadership in our projects and in the way we operate,” Wild said.

“We wanted to broaden our thinking beyond buildings. Procurement for instance: where do we buy our food, our materials? How can we get involved in creating habitats, reducing our business and commuting travel emissions?”

This is not a huge cost, he says, but it can have a big impact.

“It’s almost a challenge put out there that as a business we’re going beyond the stamp of carbon neutral, and trying to achieve a One Planet position and challenge to the rest of the industry.

“Like any of these things some will work well and sometimes take a step backwards.”