NABERS has announced it’s taking the Creative Stars competition that featured in our Sydney Mad Men for the Planet workshop last year national – and it’s decided to award a cash prize for the best idea.

On offer now is up to $10,000 in matched funding to make the idea a reality.

Our Mad Men event was designed around shoring up understanding of how to “sell” the idea of greener buildings – NABERS ratings in particular – to a broader audience.

Why not make the NABERS ratings as visible and aspirational as those of a five star hotel?

That’s was the thinking among the crowd that attended and they had ideas aplenty

Now with energy prices on the rise and some parts of the industry saying price rises could jump by 30 per cent or more in some cases, the idea of green being good has suddenly morphed into green becoming a necessity.

Man Men for the Planet – Nov 2016

Among those fielding a team at Mad Men last year were for the workshop and competition on 23 November last year were DEXUS, Investa, Stockland, Cundall, Energy Action, Envizi, CBRE, Magnetite, Eureka – Real Assets, DWP Suters, Property HQ, Equiem, IM Environmental Group and Nett Zero.

Our MC was the inimitable Howard Parry-Husbands from brand research and strategy outfit Pollinate. Parry-Husbands specialises in managing consumer behaviour change and influencing positive transformations, and he certainly knew how to influence a crowd and make the energy hop.

So what were some of the objectives that stimulated the competition in this highly engaging workshop? And what kind of ideas did people have?

According to one of the Stockland team, the thinking behind their concept was similar to that of others in the room. It was along the lines of displays that would translate important criteria into “meaningful chunks” for office tenants and occupants – such as number of trees or water consumed or waste created.

The key was finding ways to translate the metrics into behaviour change.

“So if you see your tenancy has used a lot of paper or energy yesterday you might think twice about printing out that document, or making sure you turn off the lights,” she said.

A competitive element never goes astray so the display would ideally show how other floors or buildings are performing.

Stockland’s national sustainability manager commercial Greg Johnson said a resurgence of interest in NABERS ratings is just around the corner.

The big driver, he says, is the step rise in power prices that is on the cards.

Recent briefings provided to internal staff suggest that when three-year contracts come up for renewal next year energy costs for tenancies and base buildings could rise between 15 per cent and 30 per cent (others say it could be up to 40 per cent).

This gels with comments form energy efficiency operators we reported last month who say demand for services has doubled in the first weeks of this year and that imminent prices rises seem to be the most logical driver.

Michael Cook, group executive for Investa Property Group, said his team liked the idea they came up with at the workshop so much they were already implementing it.

Essentially it’s a tenancy engagement portal.

Another member of the Investa team who attended, sustainability coordinator Ian Lieblich, said: “Effectively it’s almost a social media channel for the asset, so we’re trying to create an online community where we can connect with other occupants in the building, even if they work for other companies.”

Part of the program is running sustainability initiatives and inviting speakers to speak at events.

But it’s not easy to get engagement.

Cook says engaging with tenants on improving energy efficiency was something his team was always trying to do better.

Frank Roberson, NABERS

There is so much low hanging fruit that could make their NABERS tenancy rating sing should tenants choose to have one and display it.

Lighting in particular.

Investa now adds $25 or $28 a square metre to a tenant’s incentive and then they take it back as a lighting upgrade to LEDs, Cook says. The tenant gets a payback in reduced energy costs.

According to Cook, not reaching for better efficiencies or higher NABERS ratings is not because tenants don’t care.

“I think they would care if they knew what they were caring about,” he said.

Ian Harkin of Magnetite said his team also concentrated on ways to display and compare metrics.

One of his team, Richard Hamber, then Window Energy Rating Scheme Manager at The Australian

Window Association and now with window manufacturer Jeld-Wen, thought it could be developed as a channel on computers and even phones, so broadcast through different media via an app that could be developed.

“Then we went downstairs [at event host Mirvac’s 200 George Street office] and noticed it was happening anyway.

“The idea was that you could potentially pick up readings for different areas and pick up anyone else’s readings.”

And the winner on the day was…

But the outright winner on the day was the team from Envizi who almost unfairly swept the floor with the drama of their concept.

David Solsky, Envizi

CEO David Solksy flamboyantly asked the audience to imagine a beautiful tree projected onto the soaring walls of an office foyer and at night, outside.

You’d be riffing off the Vivid light festival, he said.

Imagine that as the building becomes greener, notches up more NABERS stars in energy, water or waste, the branches and leaves become more abundant. They flourish. In fact that’s the name they gave the concept.

“You’d be walking around with your family and friends at night in a precinct with all these lovely trees and you’d know you were in a forest of clean and healthy buildings,” Solsky said.

When we spoke to him later Solsky was mulling over whether his team could spend the time amid a punishing schedule to develop the idea and enter it in the national competition. It wasn’t their core business.

But with such an idea, how could he not reach for the $10,000 prize, not to mention the national focus it would give his company?

The more we talked, the more interested Solsky became. It could be a way to encourage the facility managers and other operational people in buildings to come out from the basement and feel some pride for helping buildings run better.

“A lot of sustainability is down to the operational team – the FM and mechanical contractions,” he said.

“They’re often the unsung heroes and they don’t really get credit for what they achieve.”

A public display of the building performance could be a way to credit their input, which is so often invisible.

NABERS is a “very powerful business tool”, he said, and this would be a way to take the idea of metrics and displays and “bring the results to life the general populace”.

“It’s still using all the fundamentals around building performance but it’s making it real.”

Solsky said it would be a great idea to make the tool consistent on a national basis.

“I want to be able to walk through a building and if it’s consistent I can judge any building that’s participating and know that this one is more efficient or that’s more efficient and has cut a lot of waste.”

Now readers, wherever you are, in the property industry, in consulting or in any of the ancillary businesses, are you going to let the Envizi team snare the prize, or give them a run for their money (and make it your money?)

Click here for the entry form and criteria.

Deadline is 10 May. And the celebratory event is on 17 May in Sydney. So if you are interstate and “just know” you’ll be a winner, you could book your travel now.

Get more cheat sheet hints by reading our coverage of the Mad Men for the Planet event in November last year here:

More photos from Mad Men 2016

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