31 October 2012 – UPDATED: Craig Roussac has left Investa to start up his own company and some of the work he has been doing in energy efficiency – including the intellectual property – will go with him.

It’s a deal that could be made in heaven for both parties (at least it looks that way).

Roussac (pictured) gets to take away the systems he put in place to monitor and improve building performance including the Pulse monitoring system for buildings. He gets to continue working with Investa w because it’s signed up as his first client. And Investa gets to keep the 31 buildings in the program ship-shape by the man who helped turn around their performance by “tapping the intrinsic motivation of the people who are running the facilities.”

Investa group executive Campbell Hanan said: “I am very pleased that through our culture of innovation we have been able to foster a new technology such as Pulse.

“We’re pleased to be Craig’s first client for Pulse, and look forward to a continuing relationship with his company.”

Roussac announced his resignation only on Monday, but by the afternoon, as he was signing the lease for his new premises at 9 Barrack Street in Sydney, right next to the Property Council offices, the news had seeped out.

Appointed to Investa in 2004 to deliver the sustainability and safety agenda promised in that year’s annual report, Roussac was general manager, sustainability, safety and environment from 2006 and helped ramp up the benchmark on sustainability and energy efficiency not just for Investa but arguably for the broader industry, through his advocacy roles.

He recently revealed some of his thinking about the untapped potential for energy savings in commercial buildings in a wide-ranging interview with Lynne Blundell in The Fifth Estate.

He separately told The Fifth Estate that on the potential for radical energy savings, “the whole world has got it wrong”. In other words, the savings could be far more radical and dramatic than already achieved.

The new venture will include engineer and Investa colleague Jesse Steinfeld, who will be a co-principal, and a third partner, a computer scientist who prefers to be not named at this stage.

It will be named Buildings Alive Pty Ltd, taking its name from the exiting program. The daily “Pulse” update system that alerts building managers to the building’s previous day’s performance, may be renamed.

With the new company go all the rights and intellectual property.

“We’ve agreed to transfer all the rights associated with the Green Buildings Alive website and the Pulse application,” Roussac said on Wednesday.

“It’s part of my release with Investa and a separate agreement we’ve reached with the third-party software developers. Buildings Alive will be fully independent”

Roussac says he will build on the existing work at Investa to develop the social and collective benchmarking approach to making buildings run more smoothly, which he wanted to stress was at the heart of the achievements.

This could involve a group of five or six building managers who will network and swap information on a regular basis. The aim is to compare results within the group but also with buildings in other locations.

This will remove the isolation of many building managers and will enhance the learning experience. It’s what Roussac has been working on in a PhD that he has embarked on through the University of Sydney.

“It’s the business process and the technological guts, if you like, working together. I call it a social learning framework, which is what I’ve been focusing on with my PhD,” Roussac says.

“Within the Investa portfolio I’ve found a typical building’s energy use can be reduced by 6 per cent and  8 per cent (in some cases much more) simply by providing timely information in a form that is useful to the operators. I’m now interested to take those findings further and to explore the potential more broadly.”

For now Roussac will remain as chair of the Property Council’s NSW Sustainable Development Committee, but he has stepped down from his role on the City of Sydney’s Better Buildings Partnership Leadership Panel.

Campbell Hanan said Investa would maintain its commitment to sustainability leadership.

“Through a combination of research and innovation the company has achieved continual improvements in the environmental performance of its buildings, while educating tenants on how to create and operate more sustainable workplaces,” Hanan said.

In 2011, the company’s unlisted office portfolio was ranked as the world’s number one unlisted property fund by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark for its exemplary environmental and social practices. Investa was also awarded the Premier?s Award for Sustainability Excellence in the 2011 NSW Government Green Globe Awards.

Beck Dawson, currently Investa’s sustainability manager, has been appointed head of corporate sustainability.

Shaun Condon will be head of environment and safety.