Jobs to fill

Among those searching to fill sustainability and climate related roles – The Fifth Estate included; senior journo/editor role if you’re interested – amid a ridiculously scarce labour market and plenty of poaching, are some big names and big gigs in sustainability (oh how the tables have turned).

Hassell is one such company, seeking a head of sustainability for its Sydney office; Stockland is seeking a lobbyist, oops we mean government and stakeholder relations manager, for its Brisbane office. Also, in Queensland a very important sounding role with the Fire and Emergency Service as director of strategic intelligence and planning, might include dealing with the newly emerging phenomenon of bush fires in tropical areas. And the Comm Bank is looking to fill the the intriguingly named position of senior manager climate strategy and finance emissions (we’re hoping this means that the finance of things such as coal mines will come into the purview of this gig.)

Jobs filled

Among new appointments, the University of Sydney’s School of Chemistry has snaffled hydrogen expert Professor Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou from University of NSW. The professor is an expert in hydrogen storage in particular and has a wealth of academic achievements, among them founder of scientist-led company H2Potential, focused on growing the global hydrogen economy.

Professor Aguey-Zinsou says that engagement with the research and development sector would allow Australia to develop a “hydrogen valley”, owning key hydrogen technologies that will drive future markets.

“Australia is blessed with a significant amount of renewable resources that can be harvested to generate hydrogen that could help to decarbonise the world” states Professor Aguey-Zinsou.

“This is a great ambition and a huge task that cannot be solely driven by the private sector, especially if we want to create real value for the Australian people, including local jobs.”

Speaking of universities, Monash, which has been winning accolades for its work on Passive House has teamed up with ENGIE in a long term alliance to 2030 to meet the net zero challenge. There’s an impressive agenda at play from what we can gather.

Another interesting appointment is Gold Coast Waterways managing to lure Chris Derksema back to home state Queensland after 21 years in Sydney to head up the organisation as chief executive officer.

“My family comes from there,” Derksema told The Fifth Estate in relation to the kind of move that seems to be growing in frequency – moving north – and citing the attraction of closer family connections.

Derksema had been undertaking a secondment to the Greater Sydney Commission after a long stint at the City of Sydney when a recruiter tapped him on the shoulder.

He will be joined at the GCWA by Greg Vann as new chair, who is stepping into take the place of departing Mara Bunn.

The role, he said, would be a “little bit of everything, from master planning to placemaking”.

Derksema says he’s proud of a lot of good work he’s left behind at the City including helping it become the first certified carbon local government in Australia and to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy. Coming soon, he’s pointed out, is the activation of the recycled water pipe that the City negotiated would be laid in George Street as part of the trackworks for the light rail.

Meanwhile, Helen Papathasaniou  has finally revealed that after leaving Parramatta council, she’s joining the City of Sydney (perhaps to pick up where Derksema has left off). Watch for our upcoming ebook on our most recent event and program Moonshot 2030 on eco prop tech to see what she says about the local government angle in getting to our Moonshot. 

Another long term player in local government, this time North Sydney, has departed after more than nine years. Niki Carey has left a role as senior sustainability programs coordinator to take up the gig of sustainability manager at Sydney Metro.

The metaverse’s siren song to infrastructure

Steve Lennon who we first met back in the earliest days of The Fifth Estate is back in the built environment space after stints with Nous, Cognizant and Fujitsu after leaving Arup, with a new gig as Australian digital leader for GHD.

In recent comments he posted on the company’s website Lennon says the huge labour shortages will bring to the fore more than ever the need for digital transformation.

In the next five years, he says, there will be more than $218 billion invested in public infrastructure. So how are we going to do it? With all the disruptions and shortages caused by Covid border closures and lockdowns the need for help from the metaverse is clear.

Lennon cites the latest Infrastructure Australia Market Capacity report which found the impacts will likely include:

  • A shortage of up to 163,000 workers by early 2023
  • 120 per cent average growth in demand for materials
  • 125 per cent growth in demand for equipment
  • 140 per cent growth in demand for plant
  • Project delays and budget blowouts until 2028
  • Reduced industry confidence in delivering growth over 18 per cent.

“Failure to provide the required resources means that the infrastructure-led post-pandemic economic recovery is at risk of collapsing,” he says.

The answer could be in the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan which outlines “a pathway for harnessing revolutionary technologies that will drive improvements in efficiency across the whole sector”.

We were certainly keen adapt when needed during lockdowns and Lennon points to how quickly infrastructure adapted to need in health, education, and lifestyle needs.

Now for infrastructure. Here are his recommendations:

  • Streamlining project conception, design and front-end engineering
  • Increasing collaboration to manage/develop both capacity and capability while connecting local supply chains
  • Virtual modelling to identify preventable roadblocks early
  • Enabling a greater use of pre-assembled, modular construction methods
  • Digitising asset management to see automated monitoring and on-demand response to failures, resource shortages (reordering when low on materials), and maintenance requirements
  • Using data and technology to make operations leaner and greener
  • Digital portfolio and pipeline management to augment project pipelines and lessen the risk of resource constraints
  • Creating better service models — 2020 saw a shift from physical to virtual services at a rate previously thought impossible. Capitalising on this shift will optimise functionality and stakeholder engagement.

In other news, A.G. Coombs Group says it’s joined the growing declare movement with a commitment to a net zero goal: Scope 1 and Scope 2 operational emissions by 2030, and says it will work with its value chain, industry partners and customers to achieve this in Scope 3 emissions by 2040.

The world must move from a “best endeavours” carbon reduction process to a definitive and transparently accounted for elimination approach, the company said in a recent media statement.

A.G. Coombs Group managing director Russell Telford said that the company, as a “significant provider in the Australian property and building construction industry’s supply chain has a strong process in place to be part of this transition, including a clear commitment to a net zero operating position.”

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