Bioregional Australia Foundation has appointed Suzette Jackson to the role of executive director.

Ms Jackson is a director of the consultancy Innate Ecology, and has also previously been executive director of the Living Future Institute Australia, chair of the Environment Committee – Green Communities Rating Tool Development for the Green Building Council of Australia, and senior associate for HASSELL’s Sustainable Futures Unit.

Her appointment comes at a time when Bioregional is seeing substantial growth in engagement with the One Planet Living framework that it administers and promotes.

The Australian organisation has also been building its processes following a period of working closely with the UK Bioregional development group, she said.

One of the major changes to the pilot process that has been in place in Australia for the past three years is the Australian “One Planet Program” places a lot more emphasis on the project or organisation’s action plan and a two-yearly review that produces metrics on how progress is being made towards the OPL goals.

Ms Jackson said she expected the organisation to be actively recruiting more personnel over the next year or two in Australia to boost its range of expertise and service the burgeoning interest level.

Ms Jackson told The Fifth Estate there were a greater number of local councils and projects going through the OPL process, some seeking endorsement under the International OPL program and some under the Australian one.

“There are a number of both small and large developers wanting to use [the framework] alongside national rating schemes or independent of them to improve the outcomes of their projects,” she said.

These include a major national developer (that cannot be named at this stage) undertaking a multi-residential project, she said.

One of the drivers for interest is that both the national and international frameworks are based on principles, rather than a certification. This is encouraging local councils to see it as a way of informing planning for infill developments and urban growth areas.

For developers, it is a way to guide the process, one that gives them the “freedom to implement the appropriate systems for the scale of that project”.

The approach requires putting the right infrastructure in place to achieve zero carbon and zero waste during the life of a development or building, she said. So OPL focuses on the long-term vision and aims, and then looks at how to achieve those through the right mix of design, technology, processes, materials and products.

“For example, a small project can use passive design and passive systems,” Ms Jackson said.

Bioregional Australia is also encouraging developers and councils to partner with research organisations to assist with innovation, the monitoring of initiatives, and to help with achieving the “heavier” targets such as zero carbon.

Ms Jackson said feedback from developers that have used OPL principles during the masterplanning stage of projects to inform the work is that it then became easier to go into a checklist-based rating system such as Green Star or LEED and achieve a rating.

Recent OPL training held in Perth and meetings with Western Australian industry stakeholders including LandCorp highlighted the degree of interest there is in the west around OPL.

Ms Jackson said this has been stimulated by City of Fremantle formally achieving OPL Council status and incorporating the principles into its planning processes, and also by LandCorp’s White Gum Valley adopting the international framework.

Ms Jackson said the WA training had resulted in more qualified OPL integrators now available to work with projects and councils, and that there was a need for more integrators in the eastern states as the number of engaged councils and developers grew.

OPL training to become an integrator is happening in Melbourne this week, and in Sydney on September 19 and 20.

  • Full details of OPL training here