bird sitting on tree
Photo: Ondrej Bocek on Unsplash

News from the front desk, issue 468: The year started as a beast. It’s still a beast but it’s now creating a fury roaring in another direction, ours.

There’s an incredible mood of positive energy and decisive action about.

It’s all systems Go, Just like the Thunderbirds. (Look that up kids.).

The Climate Emergency Summit in Melbourne last week was an energy phenomenon – anger mixed with hope, all used to fuel mobilisation.

You can see this locally and globally in the amount of initiatives that have launched. The $US10 billion (AU$15.9 million) from Jeff Bezos to fight climate heating. The $12 million from Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie to help bushfire victims achieve renewable energy.

After this biblical season of fire and flood (and now pestilence) that for too many people is not over yet, there’s a sense for the rest of us that there is nothing to lose and no time to waste.

Fire? Let’s build back better and stronger. See the fierce determination evident in Willow’s story on the build back question.

Even without the humane and Country centred approach it makes economic sense to keep these regions going. Risk Frontiers research says the highest bushfire risk areas generate 10 per cent of our GDP and contain about one million properties and 2.5 million people.

Flood? Let’s use a drone and flying fox installed by the army to get supplies to the people across the river drop as they did at Wytaliba.

And just because it’s risky for fire or flood it doesn’t mean we don’t do it. The riskiest things in the world have led the greatest innovation says chief executive and founder of the Bushfire Building Council of Australia, Kate Cotter. Think about cars and flying, just for starters.

Pestilence? Let’s learn how to work remotely, as they are doing in China now that 500 million people are confined to barracks.

In Australia, let’s do conferences through high tech virtual reality or make them boutique and less risky.

Biblical conflagration? All predestined and part of the Pentecostal song book? Let’s check the other “faith” people; claiming around 10 million members, by the way – who didn’t have to look hard to find the other bit of the bible that says:

“Our earth is a gift from God, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to protect this precious gift for the sake of generations to come.” The School Strikes for Climate show that today’s children and grandchildren are righteously angry about the ecological crisis they are inheriting. We owe it to them to create a safer future.

Looking at you, property sector

On industry sentiment there’s a new sense of purpose. Net zero targets everywhere.

Even Scentre Group, intrinsically and determinately opposed to mandatory anything, has now announced it will aim for net zero with its wholly-owned Westfield shopping centres by 2030.

It’s joining so many other property companies promising similar outcomes. The peer pressure effect? Who cares, let’s go with it.

But the leaders are saying, this industry is all very well and good on green buildings. We are all five star NABERS energy now.

Umm, here we strike a problem. Five star sounds great. It’s what we label our best hotels. The image, sound, feeling of five star is that it’s tops.

Not many people achieve six star nor does the public quite comprehend what it means to be six star: Is it better than top? Is it just over half way to 10 star? Just to confuse matters, five stars is below the minimum requirement for NatHERS ratings.

Problem is that perception means so much in a world where economic value is made up of part fundamental value and part sentiment. You can see this in the excessive swings of the sharemarket back and forth according to tiny factors that seem as insignificant as a rumour, or the weather, at times.

So the push is on, according to our sources, to ramp up the ratings and explain to people that five star NABERS means you can probably shave another 60 per cent off your carbon emissions at very little cost.

And along with the fabulous net zero targets, for some time in the future let’s establish some plans and milestones alongside.

More and more people are watching property now for what it will do to help save the planet.

More of the general public are starting to understand that buildings produce more than 40 per cent of all emissions.

Buildings are a top 10 target and among the most important because the cuts are so easy and cheap to get.

With new buildings we should have no excuses but to build them super efficiently, but from Yale 360 comes this:

The other, much bigger problem is how to cut emissions from existing buildings, which will account for most emissions from this sector. Here the actions are a blend of technology (easier to retrofit efficient heating and air conditioning systems) and regulation, since in most countries the big barriers to changing buildings aren’t just cost but also building codes.

It’s our curtain call from the audience… more people are now watching. We need to act.

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