Young coworkers during coffee break in cafe

MARKET PULSE:  Energy prices are skyrocketing and analysts are saying one thing is to blame – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But this crisis could finally be the mouse that sinks the boat of Europe’s fossil fuel dependency and speed up transition to renewables. The war has already sent the price of oil skyrocketing above $US100 a barrel, and is pushing Europe to rethink its energy supplies and security.

University of Sydney professor Jun Huang said the war has exposed Europe’s fossil fuel dependency and energy vulnerabilities, saying: “This issue could be a strong motivation for the region to develop local renewable energy capacity, as well as move to reliable suppliers.”

At home borders have opened and international students have started to return to Australia, prompting Brookfield, (which we’re keeping a close eye on after its bid with Mike Cannon-Brookes to buy out AGL) to make its first investment in the student accommodation sector in Australia. The company will be working with Citiplan to acquire a purpose-built student accommodation development site directly opposite the University of Melbourne to be managed by Journal Student Living around Australia.

The joint venture will build on Brookfield’s US$7.4 billion global student accommodation business, with 197 assets, containing over 55,000 beds across Europe and the United States, including businesses Scion Group and Student Roost.

“The thematics driving student housing are strong as we move into a post-COVID environment,” Brookfield head of real estate investments Ruban Kaneshamoorthy said. “Given the headwinds the sector has faced through COVID-19, we see this as a highly favourable environment to aggregate sites that will only be delivered once the market has normalised.”

On World Wildlife Day on 3 March came the announcement that the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has partnered with Everland to expand its portfolio of forest conservation projects to help address the climate and biodiversity crises, aiming to generate at least 10 million tonnes of verified emission reductions (VERs) annually, with an estimated value of $2 billion over the next decade. 

The Victorian government has developed a free online support tool in collaboration with the Black Dog Institute and the University of NSW. Mindarma will support small businesses and their employees with 10 sessions with practical strategies and tools for mental health support. To find out more visit the Black Dog Institute summary and the Mindarma website. Registration is free for Victorian small businesses until 30 June 2022.

At last week’s Infrastructure Sustainability Council ReConnect conference in Sydney the council’s chief executive officer Ainsley Simpson called for the industry to come together around a “shared vision”.

“Competitive advantage will not be defined by intellectual property, rather by the speed at which innovations are shared to reduce the learning curve for others,” Simpson said.

She pointed to a report from the council, Advance our nations, fair – world-class infrastructure for thriving nations, developed in partnership with Urbis, that found “industry fragmentation, subjective decision-making, risk aversion and sectoral capacity” were the key barriers to world-class infrastructure performance. 

We’re not sure if there was a sub-text there about how Australia was faring. But Simpson did say “Competitive advantage will not be defined by IP, rather by the speed at which innovations are shared to reduce the learning curve for others,” something an engineer told us years ago after they put all their plans and documents– especially the innovative ones on line to share. “Well, if you come up with something new”, he said, you used to get a couple of years of advantage over competitors. These days it might only be six months, so you may as well share and become known as a thought leader.”

A second document, Place-based approaches to net zero, in partnership with Mott MacDonald, calls for “a systemic, networked approach to decarbonisation focused on towns, cities and regions rather than just assets, sectors and materials”. 

“The true power of a place-based approach is that it unlocks innovation and new potential that would not be evident from a typical top-down approach, such as local business investment and community engagement in net zero solutions,” said Amanda Sturgeon, the company’s climate change practice lead

IFM Investors and Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), have entered into a renewable energy power purchase agreement for key infrastructure assets to help decarbonise airports, ports, roads and hospitals. 

Renewable Energy Hub designed and delivered the deal with Origin Energy 

Opportunities

If you’re inclined to help Consult Australia with work it does on several Standards Australia committees working on to assist in developing new or revising existing standards get in touch. Current opportunities include:

  • BD-066 Prefabricated Concrete Elements – nominations required by 9 March 2022
  • Technical Committee WS-022 Valves for Waterworks – nominations required by 11 March 2022 
  • BD-084 Steel Reinforcing and Prestressing Materials – nominations required by 15 March 2022

The University of Melbourne is advertising for a part-time project support officer to join the urban resilience and innovation team in partnership with the City of Melbourne until 31 December 2022. It is an opportunity to work alongside the chair in urban resilience and innovation Sarah Bell and the City Resilience and Sustainable Futures team. 

Architecture company Woods Bagot is seeking a full-time urban designer to create and deliver engaging, future-oriented projects in a hybrid role based in Sydney. 

Sydney Opera House is looking for a full-time mid-senior level environmental sustainability project coordinator, to work collaboratively with the environmental sustainability manager to design, deliver and coordinate projects that enable the delivery of the Environmental Action Plan 2020-23 and the United Nations Global Goals.

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