On new shoots, in Cairns, Adelaide, Metcash, GBCA and the REITs (let’s hope)
As the new year starts to gain its wobbly footing, you can sense a tentative sense of relief and confidence that maybe the worst of the crazy climate/sustainability backlash times are drawing to their inevitable close. And that it’s time for this industry to spread its wings a bit.
First the big real estate investment trusts are starting to sound positive on the susty front again.
Expected soon is Mirvac’s new sustainability strategy, DEXUS promises some renewed vigour in the field now that it’s told the world it wants to be Australia’s biggest commercial property trust, and Stockland too is hinting at good news ahead.
Good news this week also came from Metcash, which is employing at least one new sustainability manager to join Louise Rhodes, after its new chief Ian Morrice signalled that the company would take sustainability much more seriously now that he was in charge, that it had been taken seriously at his last gig and, besides, could offer competitive advantages.
Also good news was the move by the Green Building Council of Australia to signal it was spreading its wings into partnering with retailers to improve their premises. First of what we hope will be many announcements was a relationship with Kathmandu, which retails outdoor gear. Nice one GBCA! And a good fit
Another observation that we hope is a trend in the making: the emergence of serious supply chain work. See the article from Ian McConnel of WWF Australia, which explains the work going on with McDonald’s to create a more sustainable beef industry. Another initiative with potentially huge impact.
Adelaide based Paul Davy and Deborah Davidson, who launched dsquared in September 2012, are on the search for their second full-time staffer to work in building simulation to assist on major projects.
Davy, speaking to The Fifth Estate on Thursday, said the new position would be to create modelling input into design projects.
“We’re especially using it for design input rather than verification. There’s a good shift we’ve seen happening in last couple of years. Rather than finishing the design and doing the modelling for verification, we’re doing it very early on to inform the design,” Davy said.
Other staff includes Ken Long, who is an environmentally sustainable development consultant, and is also secretary of the Adelaide Sustainable Building Network.
Davy’s outlook for the year is “busy”.
“Adelaide itself is quiet but we’ve managed to keep ourselves busy with everything from residential to master planning, commercial and industrial,” Davy said.
Key projects includes work on 4000 residential units and commercial space in the massive 30-hectare Bowden Village project master planned by Renewal SA, which has committed to 5 Star Green Star and is also registered for Green Star – Communities.
Local developers include River Gum and Rossdale for the residential component and Commercial & General and Mossop for the commercial.
Other projects include Cbus’ first development in Adelaide, the 22,000 sq m 50 Flinders Street which would be 5 Star Green Star and five star NABERS.
In Cairns the firm was consulting on the 20,000 sq m research facility for James Cook University, Science Place where a US LEED rating was being considered.
See our previous post on dsquared
RICS, the UN and greening this massive global beast
As huge fans of the property sector and its power to influence well… everyone who lives, works or plays in a building, we know property is über important.
According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the United Nations Global Compact ,which have announced a collaboration to improve sustainable practices in the sector, its worth an estimated massive 70 per cent of global wealth.
Speaking of RICS, Collin Jennings, RICS government liaison and communications manager, says he doesn’t think the outlook for property is quite as rosy as the recent Property Council/ANZ sentiment survey might paint.
See Property centre stage again as confidence surges
Certainly on residential the picture is moving from fuzzy to a strongish glow but in the commercial sector it’s patchy, Jennings says.
Certainly there’s plenty of appetite for investment.
“There’s strong investor demand from retail and investor funds are spilling with money. Whether it’s Australian pension funds or Canadian or Swedish, they’re running around the globe looking for places to invest.”
But leasing is still a little weak. This mirrors the weakness we hear about in the financial media in relation the broader economy.
On more directly sustainable issues, Jennings says RICS will continue to beaver away adding to its work in valuations, make good and its LEASA app no doubt, but on the Federal Government’s Direct Action, Jennings is holding fire until more detail emerges.
“We’ve still not seen any grist on this; it’s still very ethereal,” Jennings said.
“We know that the minister before he became a minister was desperately trying to say it is going to be fantastic for you because there will be ways to retrofit the buildings and the money will be there… and he was doing a real pitch to the property sector, but from our point of view we’d like to see more meat on the bones before we make any formal comments on it.”