#Blog: Exploring Impact in The Sustainability and Social Space

An update from Senior Consultant, Maxine Bazeley.

Lately I’ve been working to expand my network at industry events and introduction meetings in search of the real impact roles within property. Early last month Richard and I headed to Sydney, where we connected with engineering, asset management, property fund and real estate clients. We spent this time checking in on current and upcoming projects, including Barangaroo and the Sydney Metro, as well as getting a feel for the general vibe towards sustainability within different organisations.

Back in Melbourne, I attended CoreNet Global’s State of the Nation event at Cushman & Wakefield’s newly refurbished office. Economist Frank Gelber talked through the slow transition from our previously booming mining economy to other construction sectors and highlighted the increasing demand for space in Sydney’s commercial real estate. Potentially, this could attract businesses to Melbourne for competitive rent and high quality buildings. This was one of many events I’ll be attending in 2017 as a CoreNet Young Leader, after taking part in their amazing symposium in June last year ‘Is the future of work really all about the workplace?’. I’ve selected this membership as a valuable commitment for the year.

Last month also saw the political narrative shift toward renewable energy with South Australia taking control of its energy market in response to the Blackouts; and Turnbull’s promise to complete the Snowy Hydro expansion project. I attended a timely breakfast forum hosted by Umow Lai titled ‘The Paris Agreement, Renewables & Buildings’. Host Ken Loh introduced Shane Esmore, the Sustainability Director of Umow Lai Melbourne, who highlighted our current situation and the political context that got us into the energy crisis. Shane discussed projection modelling from the CSIRO that pointed to a diverse mix of energy sources in our future. What that likely means for the built environment is smart design that incorporates more commercial building or shared residential PV and battery storage that can adapt to distributed local power, micro-grids and eventually peer to peer electricity trading.

To loop back to the workplace and the behavioural side of building design, I attended a data debrief on ‘The Rise and Fall of Activity Based Working’ hosted by Westpac and presented by Leesman. Their survey took a control group of 240 companies and scored them alongside 40 Activity Based Working (ABW) organisations globally and asked questions around how their workplace supported productivity, pride, community and collaboration. Results showed that employees with high activity complexity benefited the most from well-designed ABW workplaces. It also showed that ABW works most successfully when these four elements are present; the technology and tools are fit for the tasks, adequate training is provided, the culture of the organisation supports the style of working and the design supports the required tasks. For more interesting insights, download the report here.

The common theme I’m still hearing is that initiatives can only thrive when they have the support of the C-suite and senior management. Until their agenda changes around ways of working and sustainability initiatives, their behaviours permeate from the top down through their strategy, actions and purpose. We have tools to measure and accredit sustainable design, building performance, staff satisfaction and wellness, but how can we measure purpose within an organisation? Some businesses, like Talent Nation, are certified by B Lab including Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Core Projects and Impact Investment Group to name a few. B Corp certification means that these businesses voluntarily meet a higher standard of transparency, accountability, and performance, harnessing the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

Richard, Georgia and I represented the Talent Nation team at the latest B Corp drinks hosted by Nation Partners in their refurbished converted warehouse office in the CBD. The B Corp community welcomed their newest members Clarke Hopkins Clarke Architects and Monochrome Coffee. B Lab also introduced their newest team member Charlie who Talent Nation – through the awesome talent seeking skills of Kate Faulkner– discovered for the B Lab family. This is the space we’re in. Making a positive impact through business by connecting people and organisations who are doing good in the world.

Working with both social enterprises and property organisations that focus on sustainability and social outcomes hits a perfect balance between my commercial and compassionate sides. For information or a conversation about what is current and the requirement trends in the sustainability and social space, get in touch with myself or any of our team.