We’ve been busy.
Coming up on Wednesday next week is what looks like being the biggest event we’ve ever had – at least in terms of registrations. By Thursday we had over 500 and that was with five more days to go.
Now what’s going on? Well, we fully intend to ask the audience what attracted them, but to be honest, we’ve got a pretty good idea.
The topic is how to slash embodied carbon in buildings. It’s a webinar sponsored by Built which has also produced the white paper on that topic, which so many of you have already downloaded and that probably stimulated your interest to attend the event.
It’s the next big frontier for the built environment. And our speakers are all keyed into the ignition points we need for a successful revolution – or evolution for those of us who are still coy about the amount of effort and determination we need to save the climate for this beautiful earth.
You can also call these people representatives of frontier thinkers and doers. The gutsy people who change the world.
There’s the client – the one with the single-minded focus to shift the agenda for the entire nation, and that’s well-heeled enough not to bow entirely to the bean counters.
We’ve already seen what Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes is capable of on the renewable energy front, galvanising co-gutsy entrepreneur Elon Musk with the “biggest battery in the world”, then a state, South Australia that picked up the challenge and ran with it, and now even a fellow rich lister in Andrew Forrest, who wants to wrest the green influencer mantle from him, in our view.
Now he wants to affect the entire building and construction industry. No doubt because he knows it’s responsible for a massive 40 per cent of carbon emissions. Hold that thought for a single moment and let it sink in.
Atlassian’s Bronwyn Zorgdrager is the woman on the ground responsible for the delivery of the determination and Moonshot goal outlined by her boss to slash the embodied carbon of the company’s new headquarters by 50 per cent.
So you can see this is about the “how” we get to the moon.
She is all about the practicality from a client’s point of view.
Then there is the consultant.
The consultant needs to know pretty much the entire universe of the possible and what part of it is relevant and useful and efficient to implement in this particular job. Again, practical know-how.
We know from our briefings with the panel that Matt Williams from LCI Consultants has some very insightful views from the universe of materials suppliers and their state of play. For instance, concrete in Australia is pretty good and we’re selling low carbon versions of it the Brits. On the other hand we’re dreadful at steel. Why?
There is government, another key element in progress. Some governments are listening to their customers, us, and liaising with the people who want to deliver our ambitions, industry.
Turlough Guerin from the NSW government is one of these. He’s in charge of programs helping to develop the next generation building materials, including with MECLA the Materials & Embodied Carbon Leaders’ Alliance, led by Monica Richter of WWF.
What about national government? We’ve got someone to tell us about that too – New Zealand, again, standing out in front, about to bring in mandatory carbon standards in its buildings through its upcoming new building code.
Andrew Eagles, chief executive of the NZ Green Building Council will be there to help explain how you co-ordinate industry and government action and find that sweet spot that looks like wishful magical thinking – until it happens.
And there is the builder. The hands-on outfit that can translate all the ambitions, the available resources in the industry and its strategic direction to achieve the actual carbon savings in a project.
Joe Karten, Built’s head of sustainability and social impact, will show how his company has achieved significant savings – but sometimes just six per cent, hardly anything. It’s the “good the bad and the ugly” he says.
The white paper he’s put together with colleague Clare Gallagher is like an open source document to share with the entire industry the lessons learnt. Because key to progress he says is collaboration and the more the industry transforms the more we all can.
Finally, and far from least, is Brett Mason the quietly spoken co founder of Built that now has around 10,000 employees on sites around Australia at any one time – Covid willing.
Years ago the boss of a very large builder told The Fifth Estate we were wasting our time seeking sustainability insights from his team. We’re just consultants, he said, we do exactly what the client says and we can’t really influence anything.
Brett Mason doesn’t agree. The builder, he says, is at the centre of influence. He will explain how and what the strategic thinking is for this leadership play in this most critical job we have in front of us in the built environment.
As always we ask our speakers to be “frank and fearless” in their comments and insights. The hope is we create some new sparks that will influence others to start their own centre of action.
Let’s be inspired by Velvet Underground’s record with Nico – not very successful, just a few thousand sales, but each person who bought it went to start a band of their own, Eno famously said.