As the climate news gets worse, the responses from the sustainability and the right side of the property industry accelerate.
It’s a shame this didn’t happen two or three decades ago when the warning bells were ringing loudly. But the best time to plant a tree is 50 years ago, and the next best time is now, as the saying goes.
The big focus in Melbourne was All Energy Conference attended by thousands of people.
By all accounts optimism and enthusiasm were out in force. A key focus were the programs announced during the event. Among the ones that caught our eye was the big showy news from Mike Cannon-Brookes who really soon needs to be anointed as the patron saint of sustainability and climate action in Australia. His philanthropic venture called Boundless Earth is supporting a startup called Terra.Do. There are 40,000 roles are available globally on the platform, with 4500 jobs available in Australia at launch, organisers say.
At the same time Careers for Net Zero was launched to tackle the shortage of skills in the climate and renewable energy field the Clean Energy Council and Energy Efficiency Council.
“We have the technology we don’t have the people and we don’t have that much time” said EEC chief executive Luke Menzel said at the announcement on Thursday morning.
We need huge numbers of new jobs in clean energy and sustainability to meet net zero by 2050 the consensus is.
And we don’t doubt that for a minute. Given what we’ve heard during our Festival of Electric Ideas masterclass series and other work in recent months, it’s clear that Australia isn’t meeting its renewable energy target thanks to massive systemic blockages. NSW energy minister Penny Sharpe says we don’t have enough planners to push the approvals through for renewable energy. And then as Philip Graham from CleanPeak Energy pointed out in our precincts masterclass that our solar and wind generation projects are in private hands, which means that those companies need to go knocking on people’s doors to get permission to use their land for transmission lines and so on. For instance, we know now that communities are highly engaged and educated to fight what they don’t like and perceive to be an infringement on their private property rights.
Now a lot of these people also say that they are environmentalists and in favor of sustainability. And they mention the loss of wildlife and degradation of biodiversity and we appreciate all that is true. So it’s a really complex issue that we need to resolve.
In more good news at the All Energy Conference was the move by Curtin University to lead a decarbonise precincts program. It’s led by Professor Josh Byrne, whom we all know from Gardening Australia. It will tackle issues around solar energy, batteries, electric vehicles and smart integration systems.
Byrne is a person who knows a lot about testing new technology because he’s used his own house in Perth as a testbed for many years.
Then there was a plethora of news from Melbourne this week. This included the City of Melbourne’s Retrofit Melbourne program which was announced at the same time as the Property Council and Green Building Council’s launch of the next iteration of the Every Building Counts series, this time dedicated to local government and how all buildings commercial and residential can join in the battle for our future.
Back in Sydney we interviewed John Goddard who has been a great campaigner in how to get better outcomes from office fitouts as the lead author in the latest update from Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or RICS on its guide for more sustainable make good practices.
These are the clauses in leasing contracts that mandate offices be returned to the state they were in when the lease commenced. The good news from Goddard is the message is finally getting through.
Several years ago, The Fifth Estate ran a series of ebooks to cover nine different aspects of office fit out for tenants. The series was called The Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness.
According to Goddard, the message is now getting through to the top end of the industry. These are the people who are better informed and have the resources to understand what’s going on and the time to improve their processes. So they’re recycling more furniture and creating design solutions. That means less retrofitting is necessary, they can move furniture around and make it adaptable. But the story is still not trickling down to other people. And that’s the big challenge in the whole property industry, that the top end does extremely good work and gets it.
But we need to get that message down to the other 80 per cent that don’t get it. The Retrofit Melbourne is a great step in that direction. So is the Every Building Counts program.
It’s been a busy week. But as the climate news gets worse, let’s get busier.