Brookfield Multiplex Australasian sustainability manager Lauren Haas Jones is leaving the commercial world for academia. She will be setting up a CRC for Low Carbon Living project that involves creating a value-based decision-making framework for building and precinct development that incorporates social and environmental factors right from the outset.
Ms Haas Jones said the goal of the project, the Built Environment Impact Framework, was to help diverse property stakeholders (owners, end users, developers, financiers and contractors) collaborate early on and rethink the “real value” of the built environment.
“It also allows the translation of this value in a language that business will understand and the community can be a part of,” she said. “The idea is that this will lead to more informed decision-making and increased value creation.”
The project was initially conceived while doing a social return on investment for Barangaroo, when Ms Haas Jones realised there “definitely needed to be an early upfront framework” that looked at broader impacts.
“The built environment is about a lot more than square metres or financial returns, or bricks and mortar; it’s about social and environmental outcomes, community connectedness, health and wellbeing,” she told The Fifth Estate.
The project looks at translating these things into something business can understand early on in a project’s life – locking in what is valuable at the beginning of a project versus trying to incorporate it at the end.
“This is something industry needs,” Ms Haas Jones said.
She said with this framework in place “everyone can understand the bigger vision and understand how they can become part of it”.
“It’s about, ‘What are we trying to accomplish?’”
Ms Haas Jones said the value of sustainability needed to be founded on an evidence base, but also presented in a language business understands and can work with.
She said the goal after 12 months was to have a framework industry could use straight away. She said the Green Building Council of Australia and the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council had given support for the project in principle and the bodies, along with Brookfield Multiplex, would have continued involvement.
Ms Haas Jones said that after seven years with Brookfield Multiplex she felt it was time to move on. The CRCLCL project will be a part-time commitment for its 12-month term, and meanwhile she said she was enjoying taking a step back and having a “mini-sabbatical” to examine the lie of the land.
“When you’re somewhere for seven year you don’t have a lot of time to pull your head up,” she said.
With her background in accounting, and her strategic sustainability role with a large corporation, she said she was attracted to new trends in business including social impact and enterprise, benefit corporations, integrated reporting, shared value and impact investing – “the links between business, profit and purpose”.
“Establishing, growing and executing the sustainability strategy at Brookfield Multiplex was an amazing opportunity and I look forward to continuing my strong partnerships developed over the years within industry, government and academia,” she said.
While at Brookfield Multiplex, Ms Haas Jones was involved in a number of high-profile sustainability projects, including One Shelley Street, 50 Martin Place, Ausgrid and UNSW’s Tyree building in Sydney; 700 Bourke Street and 720 Bourke Street in Melbourne; and Perth’s Brookfield Place.
She is also a board member of the Occupants Survey System Australia (BOSSA), an IEQ assessment system; and has contributed to the development of industry initiatives such as the Green Star – Communities tool, the World Green Building Council’s report on the Business Case for Green Buildings and the subsequent report on Health, Wellbeing and Productivity, and was instrumental in introducing the first WELL ratings in Australia.
Ms Haas Jones is currently in final contract negotiation regarding the CRCLCL project, and it is expected to be launching in the next couple of weeks.