Jay Gualtieri, whose company Ausnviro handled the waste contract the 6 star NABERS Waste rating just announced at 171 Collins Street Melbourne, says of all the NABERS ratings that can be done, waste is beyond doubt the hardest.
He also says the rating, just secured by owners Cbus Property and Charter Hall, is far and away the best in the country, a good two stars ahead of most other rated base buildings. The few close performers are 28 Barrack Street in Perth, with a 5.5 NABERS waste rating, and 77 Grenfell Street, Adelaide, with 4.5 stars.
So why was the six star waste rating so hard to achieve?
“We’ve been involved on that site for six years and have been doing waste for the majority,” he says.
“The hard part is that it’s purely about working with the tenants. With other ratings you can work with the owner, but it’s the tenants that create waste.”
Slowly but surely, he says, his team have been working to incrementally achieve steady improvement – in recycling, in reducing contamination and in looking for opportunities to reduce waste.
“It takes time,” he says. “It’s really hard because it’s tenant based. Tenants have the control. And you have to change habits.”
That means a structured educational approach.
“One of the things we do on site is a monthly waste tracking report and every month we go through every tenant on every level with all their different characteristics and try to squeeze out gains by giving them transparency on what’s happening and then give a feedback loop to the owner.
“It’s no joke. We go through the data every day.”
The building has eight main tenants including BHP – which is headquartered in the building – plus financial and legal companies.
“We have eight sets of people we have to go through.
“You don’t get a six star NABERS without that.”
The big thing about the new NABERS, he says, is the transparency in governance that’s required.
“You have to prove the waste is going where you say it’s going and that it has checks and balances from the tenants all the way to the waste contractors and the processing facilities.
“There’s a much bigger importance placed on integrity. “
Other premium clients his team look after include the police headquarters at 313 Spencer Street in the city (the tenants there are not too bad, he says, in fact they’re “quite good”) and about 50 per cent of the business is in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and quite a few in the Northern Territory, but none in South Australia.
On indoor air quality Gualtieri says it’s too early to gauge the impact of Covid other than the complex issue that more fresh air will mean higher energy consumption, but before Covid he says NABERS ratings of IEQ were growing,
As Covid impacts he predicts that’s going to be a much different story.
Lockdown has already changed so much
Gualtieri, like most other Melburnians, was in hard lockdown when we spoke early in the week. His staff of six were in lockdown, his clients were in lockdown and in Sydney, which is not in lockdown, he hears from his clients there that only 20 per cent of staff are back in the office. “And they’re not in lockdown!” he says.
Things are definitely changing, and according to Gualtieri, they’re challenging in the extreme.
Yet his business so far, has done well. His staff have surprised him with their efficiency and productivity.
“I’m old school. Even if they travelled I expected them to back in the office the next day,” he says.
Even after Covid lifts he suspects he will be more accommodating, happy even, to see staff spend maybe a day a week working at home.
“We’ve been working at home since March 16. We didn’t even bother going back to the office. Most of our clients are not heading back.
But it’s tough. The government has handed down just one or two “essential services passes” to real estate agencies. “Everyone is working from home even those who shouldn’t be like FM [facilities managers].
But all credit to NABERS, he says, which has loosened up its regime to allow some of its ratings to be conducted without a site visit.
“NABERS has been brilliant. It’s created an interim rule that allowed us to work without mandatory site visits. Otherwise the disruption to business would be even bigger than it is.
“We keep operating; the things we can’t do is waste audits and indoor quality … audits can be done behind the scenes.”