Banksia Awards 2014 get under way

There were many familiar names at the Banksia Awards this year, held in Sydney for a change and during daylight hours for an even bigger change.

Most of the winners were from the built environment, as you might expect, knowing how key this is to wider sustainability outcomes. But even better and more inspirational to see was the calibre of the winners. Each impressive for their leadership and fearless and tireless devotion to making headway in their sector. Despite what we know is the often onerous task of taking reluctant or sceptical colleagues with them, and these days too, in the face of the most hostile political barriers.

Each of the winners and their teams thoroughly deserves the recognition of Australia’s most prestigious environmental awards and there’s no doubt they will be celebrating tonight. But even more appreciated, you suspect, would be knowing that their work will act as an exemplar to be followed by peers and competitors alike.

The ACT government, for instance, long a standout leader in clean energy and sustainability.

ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell, with (left) Matthew Bell of EY

Winning both the Local Government Sustainability Award and the Gold Banksia Award was ACT Solar Auction – ACT Environment and Planning Directorate, with ACT Minister for the Environment Simon Corbell, accepting the award on the directorate’s behalf.

According to the directorate the Solar Auction policy has “attracted attention nationally and internationally as a way of stimulating investment in large-scale renewable energy efficiently and at the lowest possible cost”.

And Chiara Pacifici. Her work with the Perth based developers Psaros was instrumental in the company winning the SMB Leadership Award but also, she is quick to point out, is the ambition of the company directors who are keen to pave a new and more sustainable way for their business.  In a heartfelt acceptance speech Pacifici talked about a “mid tier” developer that had managed to create a pipeline of 1000 apartments, all with their own solar power connection, and a host of other sustainability initiatives, including lifecycle assessment. At our Surround Sound in Perth Pacifici said she was constantly surprised that competitors were not swooping on the model, because it was proving to be a financial winner as well as environmental.

Chiara Pacifici, accepting a Banksia award on behalf of Psaros

However, it was her response to a congratulations from The Fifth Estate that was most impressive, “We’ve got a long way to go yet,” she said.

Also among the proud winners from the built environment sector on Tuesday was the GPT Group which swept home with the Large Business Sustainability Leadership Award, accepted by Bruce Precious who insisted the entire team pose for the winner’s photo.

Another great leadership initiative, the Better Building Partnerships – Model Leasing, by the Better Building Partnerships and City of Sydney, won the Banksia Innovator of the Year Award.

The BBP of course is well known to readers of our Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness ebook series, with the last chapter now in production that will aim to capture some of the huge advances this team has made in the cause of better and greener leasing practices. Key among breaking down the barriers to this is better relationships between tenant and landlord, as the title of the series suggests.

The Ted Talk style presentation with “landlord” Investa’s Beck Dawson wooing “tenant” AMP Capital’s Emlyn Keane for award winner BBP. Photo: Paul Edwards

In the spirit of this thinking, and making the most of dramatic Ted Talk style presentations by finalists ahead of the award announcements was Investa’s Beck Dawson. Representing the BBP Dawson delighted guests when she posed as the “landlord”, “wooing” her “tenant” played by AMP Capital’s Emlyn Keane. (Thanks to Mirvac’s Paul Edwards who captured this priceless moment in our absence in a Tweet).

Also well known to our readers is Cecile Weldon who has earned huge industry respect for her work to bring greater sustainability to home owners through the Liveability Real Estate Specialist Training for the national LJ Hooker network. Weldon’s program  took out the Education for Sustainability Award.

But there were more winners. Included were: the International Award Winner, won by Sean Willmore; the Environment Ministers Award for a Cleaner Environment, won by Kimberly-Clark Australia and New Zealand, SA; the Social Infrastructure Award won by Making it exemplar – the North West Rail Link Transport for NSW the Richard Pratt Banksia CEO Award, won by Damien Walsh, managing director, bankmecu, VIC;  the

But Dawson keeps the flowers!

Leadership in Citzenship and Communities Award won by Garage Sale Trail Foundation, NSW; the Sustainable Water Management Award winner, won byBarwon Water Biosolids Management, Plenary Group; the Natural Capital Award, won by the  Tasmanian Midlands Conservation Fund, Bush Heritage Australia and Tasmanian Land Conservancy; the Indigenous Leadership for Sustainability won by ACEAS, Indigenous Biocultural Knowledge Working Group; and the Product Sustainability – through design, manufacture and use Award winner, won by  EarthCo Projects, Fostering a climate of collaboration to transform road maintenance problems into an environmentally, financially and socially sustainable solution.