The Happiness Guide Chapter 9 – Perfect Match

What an amazing journey this book has been for all involved, charting the way to greater tenant and landlord happiness.

Just like any relationship, for the people who own and occupy our commercial buildings, there’s often love at first sight, the reality of the morning after, followed by the even greater challenge of living together – in harmony and productively.

How hard it is to achieve the ideal partnership is no more glaringly revealed than in commercial office practices. The absence of good relationships can cause great waste – in energy, water, materials – and in social and economic terms, with lost opportunities to engage in more productive stakeholder relations.

The waste can be seen most poignantly in the almost bloody-minded trashing of office fitouts when the lease agreement is over. Beautiful $1000 ergonomic chairs tossed to the trash – out they go. Heavy timber cabinet tables at which state premiers have sat and high quality furniture and fittings – out they go.

You can’t help but envision scenes from War of the Roses, or the  jilted lover tossing suitcases, clothing and personal items out the window when the relationship is done and dusted.

Well that’s the bad old days – the pre-rationalist, pre-sustainability agenda rooted in the fossil fuel dinosaur era, where we thought the oceans and earth had so much plenty that we could squander it at will and still expect a good life for our children.

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Today the wake up call is alarming. The climate is in the red danger zone. We understand at last that resources have an end point. And so does bad behaviour. Not only are poor practices unintelligent, they cost us in terms of environment, our health, our finance and, yes, our happiness.

When we started this project the rule was that owners didn’t talk much to tenants unless they absolutely had to. Maybe they were a little scared, like you’d be around a sleeping giant.

So when property owners decided they needed to green up their act and set about transforming their buildings into highly rated assets, they tip-toed around the tenants and let them get away with whatever they wanted. Maybe not quite blue murder, but close (perhaps green murder)?

Well, what do you call a building with a six star base building rating and tenancies composed of whatever the cat dragged in, in sustainability terms?

So with this split personality in our green building industry it was music to our ears when in early 2013 the Better Buildings Partnership made up of Sydney’s leading property owners in a program managed by the City of Sydney opened a most interesting conversation – how to create a project that shifts the thinking and creates greener leasing practices.

The serialised Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness is the result of that unique project. It’s been very much a collaboration with the BBP members who have allowed an unusual degree of insight into what goes on behind closed leasing doors – and how they have personally contributed to improvements, whether in lease negotiation, tenant/landlord practices, green lease clauses and the emerging “village” idea in our high rise buildings.

In this fabulous concluding chapter we delve into how five couples – and the occasional matchmaker – have managed their productive and happy relationships.

Thanks so much to the wonderful people who allowed us to bend all sorts of rules to play along with our metaphor. Especially to our cover couple, Beck Dawson from Investa and Emlyn Keane from AMP Capital who recreated the famous five-minute pitch they did on behalf of the BBP at the Banksia Sustainability Awards, which allowed them to take home the Innovator of the Year Award on behalf of the BBP.

We thank all the members of the BBP. At times they showed even greater trust and co-operation than our couples in this chapter, to allow us valuable insight into their leasing practices.

The City of Sydney has done an enormous amount of work to assist in the project. Importantly it has created tools from the evolution of better, greener leasing practices so that the learning can be leveraged to transform the entire industry.

Today, we hear that Australia is leading the world in some of these green leasing practice developments.

We’re not surprised, actually.

We know the book has received more than 50,000 hits over the previous eight chapters, and thousands of downloads, and that 20 per cent of the readers are from the US, the UK, New Zealand and Asia.

So here’s from Oz to the rest of the world – a gift for a more collaborative, greener commercial leasing market.

And don’t forget, we can’t wait for the future.

Accepting the Banksia Innovator of the Year Award on behalf of the BBP (left to right): Beck Dawson, Investa; Ben Thomas, City of Sydney, Paul Edwards, Mirvac; Esther Bailey, City of Sydney; Emlyn Keane, AMP Capital Investors.

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