The CitySwitch Awards on Thursday celebrated the best in green office sustainability in corporate Australia during a challenging year that showed that despite enormous disruption the people and businesses committed to better performance only doubled down.
A keynote speech by social researcher Rebecca Huntley said there was growing momentum from business and governments alike for sustainability action.
The biggest value of CitySwitch, she said, was to empower employers and employees with a structure that allowed them to contribute to action on energy and waste through their workplaces.
“Research shows that Australians really struggled to work out how to contribute to climate and environmental action beyond their own doorstep, beyond their roles as consumers and household managers,” Dr Huntley said.
“And CitySwitch fully gives them that.
“The research shows that except for a minority of us who approach climate change purely from a kind of ethical or moral standpoint, most of us need a range of drivers to get us to act, so those drivers that have to be personal, professional, and social, as well as ethical.”
Whatever the individual motivations for CitySwitch members, the results were on show during the presentations.
This year’s big winners included dSquared Consulting, Property NSW, Cundall and TSA Group.
As the winner of the National Signatory of the Year (under 2000 square metre), dSquared Consulting made some major sustainability strides with a 35 per cent reduction in billed energy, an ISO 9001 and ISO 14001Management System certification and a 6 star rating from NABERS.
The company also developed a new waste management system to improve its understanding of waste generation, collect data to track progress over time and support the local circular economy.
Property NSW took the top prize for Signatory of the Year (over 2000 sqm) as the first Australian government — federal, state or local — to commit to 22 NABERS 4 Green Star buildings.
The agency also backed Australia’s first large-scale battery rollout, saved 1 million kWH of electricity with its LED lighting portfolio upgrade and saved taxpayers $325,000 in energy bills.
The Energy and Sustainability team at Commonwealth Bank of Australia also earned a commendation in the category for its Environmental and Social Framework as well as its partnership with the Green Building Council of Australia to develop a best practice carbon positive roadmap.
CBA was also the first major Australian business to join global collective RE100 agreement to phase out fossil fuel consumption by 2030.
The partnership prize went to consulting firm TSA Group and engineering company Cundall, fresh off its win last year for National Signatory of the Year (under 2000 sqm).
Using the same methodology to achieve its carbon neutral status, Cundall teamed up with TSA Group to calculate its carbon footprint to be offset by 100 per cent Indigenous based Australian carbon credit units.
Victor Chang Cardiac Research & St Vincent’s Centre for Applied Medical Research earned high commendation for their partnership as well.
Located in the same building, both installed new LED lights and a Siemen’s Chiller Demand Flow projected to save 440,000 kWh and 356 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Dr Huntley, best known for her social research approach to climate change, acknowledged the turbulent past year in her virtual address. Despite the many obstacles, tonight’s award ceremony still had plenty of good news to embrace.
“I can’t think of a better time to be giving these awards out, at the start of 2021 as we start to see the vaccine roll out around the world and in this country we all very much hope that that brings us back to something approximating normal.”
CitySwitch is a national program designed to help office-based businesses improve their sustainable practices.