Green Jobs Are Widespread and Growing

Former engineer Louise Millar-Hoffman started a general career consulting business in 2002. In 2015 she set up Eco People At Work to “go niche” in the environmental and sustainability careers market out of her interest in sustainability and because she felt there was a strong appetite among a growing number of people for a green career shift. The drivers, she says, can be personal, but also external, with growing pressures for environmental outcomes in development and also mining.

%environmental recruitment%talent nationFancycrave by Pexels

“There’s a growing group of people who are green at home and in the community but look around and realise they are at work most of the time,” she told The Fifth Estate during a recent interview.

They look around at their work and decide they want to make an impact and have their work make an environmental contribution. One of the first steps for many is to acquire the skills to become a change agent within their own current industry, because they “know that inside out”. Millar-Hoffman says this is particularly true of people working in management roles and procurement, and other roles that touch on waste streams.

Some learn the processes for change and want to stay in their existing company, others decide to move on. She says those working as change agents find it easier when there is a “commitment from the top”. People in government departments can also often achieve good traction where the department has requirements around sustainability.

Some of the big businesses are also getting on board, she says, including major retailers that are looking at their supply chains and waste through a sustainability lens. In the built environment, environmental controls on development proposals are also creating niches. The same is true of mining.

“Sustainability employment generally is a growing field because there are more requirements being put on organisations to look at their practices”, she says.

“More companies are also seeing it as a point of difference, and as something consumers want.”

Millar-Hoffman says sustainability roles and initiatives are about more than just carbon impacts. They also include a necessary focus on impacts on water, land, waste, natural species and biodiversity.

%environmental recruitment%talent nationLucas on Pexels

“We need a big focus on carbon, but it has become a monster that absorbs everyone’s attention.”

To make her own transition to the field Millar-Hoffman built on her background in civil and environmental engineering and went back to university to complete a masters degree in environmental advocacy. In 2015 she undertook research into the sustainability jobs market to bolster insights she gains direct from clients about the types and locations of roles on offer. Her consultancy now works through a web-based platform that means clients can come from anywhere in Australia.

She also works directly with organisations, predominantly in Victoria. A lot of the environmental work in Victoria is the result of government-funded big infrastructure projects because sustainability requirements and future proofing for climate change are embedded in project requirements.

“At their essence they are disturbing environment to get infrastructure in.

“But there are many people happy to do that work and become part of a team to help the project become as sustainable as possible and have as low an impact as possible.”

It is a similar situation with environmental roles in the mining sector, she says.

“A lot of people don’t want to work for mining companies, but a lot say the company is going to exist anyway, so why not get in there and have environmental controls in place.”

The toughest industry areas to get traction, she says, is in fashion industry. The problem is the concept of “fast fashion”, and being a sector where the profit motive being held in high regard.

“In some fashion houses there are 52 seasons in a year and they change the stock every week. One of the trends now is to slash it and put it out to landfill so it can’t go anywhere else,” Millar-Hoffman says.

“That message needs to get out to consumers so there is a backlash.”

Fast food is another difficult sector.

%environmental recruitment%talent nationNegative Space on Pexels

She says there are “pockets” of change but overall, it “generates a lot of rubbish”.

“There are people looking at it – but it is highly challenging around the amount of waste they generate.”

Overall, she says, the jobs are everywhere. There is no clear pattern that makes jobs proportionately more numerous in the major cities or in any one state. Instead, the figures closely mirror overall employment patterns, and a significant proportion of roles are located in regional areas. One of the major challenges with getting a pulse on the market is the Australian Bureau of Statistics data does not have an occupational category for sustainability roles. Instead, she says, they are counted within the standard existing 19 occupational classifications.

Millar-Hoffman says that for those looking to find a new sustainability role, it can be a challenge working out which organisations are just “greenwashing” about their commitment.

“For young people it can be frustrating.”

If an organisation is saying it is committed to environmental values, and is located in an exemplar green building, even the genuinely green ones will still be having an impact on the environment, she says.

“We need shifts in thinking around what is worth investing in, and to be seeing where our future lies,” Millar-Hoffman says.

“We need to get organisations walking the talk.”

 

Source: The Fifth Estate

Off-Grid Solar & Battery Systems Prove 15x More Reliable Than Network

Western Australian utility Western Power has revealed the results of its stand-alone power system (SPS) pilot, confirming that the solar, diesel and battery storage systems deployed at six properties located around Ravensthorpe, Lake King and Ongerup, had delivered a 15-fold reliability improvement for customers.

In a report published on Tuesday, Western Power said the $4 million 12-month pilot – launched last July – had reduced the average time of outages for the six properties involved to less than five hours, with two properties recording no outages at all.

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This means that the reliability of electricity supply to the fringe-of-grid customers – who remain connected to the grid, but have not been drawing any power from it – was lifted to almost on par with average metropolitan levels of 99.9 per cent, the report said.

By contrast, the grid-supplied community members in the surrounding Great Southern Region experienced average outages of almost 70 hours over the same period of time. And while the power systems used in the pilot included a back-up diesel generator, the report shows that 92 per cent of the power needs of the customers were met by the solar and battery components of the system alone.

 This is great news for customers like Owen and Aimee, pictured above, at their property in West River, who – like the other participants – were charged the same rates for energy consumption as their neighbours on the South West Interconnected Network. And according to the results of a July 2017 survey by Western Power, participants have preferred their SPS experience to their experience on the grid, with an overall satisfaction rating of 9.4/10 for supply.

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But it is perhaps an even more important result for Western Power and other network operators, in that it means avoiding “hundreds of millions of dollars” that would otherwise be spent building more poles and wires and upgrading existing lines along Australia’s expansive and famously “stringy” grids. Indeed, Western Power says it has identified more than 3,000 families and businesses that could benefit from its SPS technology.

“Early modelling shows that SPS could reduce network cost by more than $300 million, with the potential to save hundreds of millions of dollars as solar and batteries costs come down,” said the CEO of the government owned utility, Guy Chalkley.

But in a rather disappointing twist, Western Power cannot immediately pursue this opportunity, due to current network regulations drafted before alternative technologies were prevalent.

“We are already investigating the potential wider roll out of SPS, pending the resolution of statutory and regulatory barriers,” the report says.

“Some of these barriers define a battery as a generator, which we – as a network operator – are not permitted to be,” it says. “This technology was not contemplated when the electricity legislative framework was developed.

“Many ‘meshed’ or integrated networks around the world are evolving to become modular i.e. dynamically connected microgrids interacting with centralised electricity networks,” the report says.

“We also consider islanded infrastructure solutions, such as SPS, to be another critical part of our network’s evolution.”

In the meantime, Western Power has committed to supplying the six properties used in the pilot via their SPS – the specifications of which are outlined in the table below – for a further three years, in the hope that regulatory certainty would green light their roll-out across the network.

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“The pilot plays a critical role in helping to boost the case for legislative changes for the deployment of these systems, as part of improving electricity supply in regional areas,” the report says.

Last year, Western Power submitted a rule change request to the Australian Energy Market Commission asking that emerging technology solutions such as battery storage be reclassified as part of the network planner’s solutions toolset.

“We want to provide the service that’s in the best interest of our customers. As a utility it means supplying people with electricity in a way that’s safe, reliable and efficient,” said Chalkley.

Source: Renew Economy

Australian Organisations Score in the Top 10 Per Cent of B Corps Globally

B Corporations are businesses which act “as a force for good”, certified by B Lab for meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Community Sector Banking (CSB) and Disruptive Media were named among the 2017 Best for the World Honorees, which recognised the positive contribution they had made to the community. Disruptive Media was honoured in the Best for Community list, which included businesses that earned a community score in the top 10 per cent of more than 2,100 B Corps worldwide.

%environmental recruitment%talent nationSydney, Australia by Anthony Kernich

Lyn Jenkin, the managing director of Disruptive Media, said “social change [had] always been at the heart of everything” they did.

“Over many years, we’ve seen first-hand the challenges many organisations face trying to create social change and bring their visionary ideas to those that will benefit,” Jenkin said.

“Through strong design and communications, Disruptive Media helps social organisations get noticed, reach their goals, and fast-track their way to achieving social change.”

While CSB has been a B Corp since 2015, it has now been added to the Changemakers list, recognising the improvements made by the organisation during their biennial re-certification this year. CSB, which is the only Australian banking service dedicated to the not-for-profit sector, was ranked in the top 10 per cent of B Corps worldwide, along with 174 other companies across 17 countries.

The co-founder of B Lab, Jay Coen Gilbert, said: “Companies like Community Sector Banking and Disruptive Media exemplify what it means for a business to be a good citizen.

“We’re proud to recognise their achievement. Best for the World is the only list of businesses making the greatest positive impact that uses comprehensive, comparable, third-party-validated data about a company’s social and environmental performance.”

CSB CEO Andrew Cairns, told Pro Bono News the company was honoured to be recognised for their community efforts.

“It makes me feel really proud and excited at the same time. Whenever you get an award or recognition, it’s affirmation that your strategy is resonating. Particularly in regards to B Corp, to be listed in the top 10 per cent is really exciting because it shows we’re on the right track,” Cairns said.

He added that B Corps were an important initiative, which offered “an internal and external capability” for an organisation.

“The internal capability is a set of guidelines, measures and methodology that ensures [organisations] remain ethically, socially and environmentally focused in what they do,” Cairns said.

“And externally, it’s important because it’s a signal to your customers and the market as to what kind of business you are and how you go about doing business.”

Cairns became CEO of CSB in April 2016, after previous roles at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group, and as CEO of Community Telco Australia. He said CSB’s purpose to achieve social good meant the organisation was different, and “an exciting place” to work at.

“CSB aspires for the not-for-profit sector [to bank] together for the common good. And by doing so, it’ll be able to derive greater control and certainty over its financial future. And [this certainty] over its financial future in this changing environment, allows it to accelerate the social impact it has in the marketplace,” Cairns said.

“What makes us different, is whilst we provide financial services as our core product, we are able to be the trusted financial advisor and partner of the not-for-profit sector…which I find particularly exciting.”

While this accolade was something Cairns said CSB was proud of, he added that they would use this affirmation to continue creating a social impact into the future.

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Homeless by Glasseyes view

“We’ve very focused on working with the sector to understand what is needed to meet the requirements today, but also in the future. This means working with the sector on co-design, looking at what the new needs, services and products required are, to help the industry grow and be more relevant,” Cairns said.

“We’ve had a lot of emphasis on working in the affordable housing and homelessness environment, because we think it’s the right of everyone to have shelter. We also believe it’s critical to work with people to give them the opportunity to access employment or earning capability.

“Those things are all very important to us, and we’ll use the methodology and learnings from what we’ve done in the past with the B Corp accreditation, along with the learnings from our shareholders, to enable us to be the best we can be.”

Source: Pro Bono Australia

How Can You Ethically Volunteer Overseas?

Every year countless young Australians head overseas to give their time to those in need. Now, school-based volunteer travel company World Challenge has announced an end to trips to orphanages in developing countries after research showed the practice was harming vulnerable children.

So what can you do if you want to volunteer overseas? Here’s how you can lend a hand in an ethical way.

If it involves children, consider your impact

Leigh Matthews, a coordinator at ReThink Orphanages, who conducted the research into the impact ‘voluntourism’ had on children, said it was important to consider your impact on other people’s lives.

“I think you have to be careful with any activity that volunteers with children,” Ms Matthews said.

“It’s very hard as volunteers to properly evaluate the impact and potential harms that might arise from your involvement. We advocate steering clear of volunteering with children, in particular, in residential environments.”

Look beyond orphanage placements

Ms Matthews said there were a whole host of other opportunities for young people.

“We would advise going with organisations that work with from a process of education and the idea is that [if] you understand the issues, you can then become a change agent in your own community back home,” she said.

“Volunteers can get involved working on community development projects, environment projects. Those are both safer options than working with children.”

Assess the cost of the trip compared to giving a donation

Another option is to donate some of your money, not just your time.

Have a think about the total cost of a volunteer stint, including flights, travel insurance and vaccinations.

If you want to travel, you can allocate a portion of your funds to go to a charity directly doing work within the community.

“It is also good to support charities that are already working in communities, starting with undertaking some research to find out about charities that are involved in the type of work and locations that you might be passionate about supporting,” Red Cross Australia international deployment manager Vanessa Brown said.

“There is some amazing work across the globe being undertaken and mobilised by local communities who are commonly the best placed respond to a certain local need, so our support for their growth can be the best way to have a positive impact.”

If you find a project, read the fine print

Ms Matthews said you should first have a look at the organisation’s reputation.

And she said to make sure the project you work on is one that’s been discussed and approved by the local community.

“Is there transparency … do they tell you where your placement is? How much of your money goes to that organisation, and is there a way you can evaluate your impact while you are there?” she said.

“Basically, do your due diligence.”

“There are many wonderful charities doing great work in local communities and those charities are both big and small. Support a charity that is effective … and is transparent in how it helps, and as longs as it aligns with a cause you care about, then I think go for it.”

Ms Brown said there were a lot of ways in which people can get involved in helping people overseas which can create a positive impact.

“The challenges that have been raised through the international volunteering in orphanages and ‘voluntourism’ unfortunately is looking at a very specific type of volunteering, in a very specific sector of humanitarian work that has had significant implications in its practice and on the local communities it has operated within,” she said.

“There are still highly valuable and meaningful (both to the community and volunteer) programs that are being undertaken every day.”

Red Cross Australia is also trialing a new international volunteering program in the Asia Pacific.

“The program will be targeted at utilising highly-skilled volunteers to undertake short to mid-term pieces of work predominantly online but also within country to support resource gaps that have been identified by our local Red Cross counterparts in those areas,” Ms Brown said.

“The model is based on reciprocal learning, whereby our counterparts will also be supported to come to Australia and other countries within the Asia Pacific region to participate and share their knowledge within the program.”

 

Source: ABC News

#Blog: Talent Nation Working With The Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School

Here at Talent Nation we are often provided with exciting opportunities to work alongside some incredible organisations, the missions and values of which truly align with our own. Our commitment to providing sustainable recruitment and executive search services allows us to not only pair talent with impactful roles, but also has our finger on the pulse, constantly connecting with purpose driven organisations emerging from a vast range of industries.

We strongly believe that knowledge is power, and that education is not only key to recognising the core issues prevalent within business practices today, but also in finding sustainable solutions for the future. An initiative which really exemplifies this is the Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School who are working to integrate ethical standards within an already established industry. So who are they?

The Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School, a for-purpose organisation, responds to increasing demands within the construction industry for cleaner, greener operating practices, acknowledging that sustainability presents both a challenge and an opportunity for this sector. The Sustainability School states that their objective is to increase knowledge and competency among the supply chain in the Australian construction and infrastructure fields, with a focus on small to medium enterprises. They aim to aid suppliers in meeting Australia’s construction and infrastructure requirements, supplying the knowledge necessary to implement more cost effective and sustainable practices.

The resources provided by the School are free to all supply chain members. A self-assessment is required upon registration, developing a prioritised 10 point action plan, providing the resources needed to inform and create changes in areas that need the most attention. Areas of interest span main sustainability issues, including materials, carbon, environmental management, waste, water, biodiversity, ethics, community, and procurement. The free resources complement existing standards within the construction industry, rating schemes and frameworks developed by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia, the Green Building Council of Australia and Federal and State Government Departments. Additionally, face to face training and supplier days are an option, providing further support beyond the digital medium.

At Talent Nation we recognise that the pathway to a sustainable future involves the constant reviewing and re-working of industries in order for them to operate at best practice. The School calls for transparency within the supply chain, shedding light on issues such as outsourced low-skilled labour, often utilised at the production stage of global supply chains (Global Slavery Index 2016).  Talent Nation aims to not only operate a business, but to have the effects of our work in place long after we’re gone. The engagement of Talent Nation with the School means that we are able to utilise our skill set within the environmental and sustainability sectors to connect exceptional talent with their organisation. The very ethos of Talent Nation is to assist in building strong communities within our area of expertise, the Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School is an endeavour that we are excited and proud to be involved with. Our overall objective has always been to use the power of business to do good, tackling larger societal issues in the process, and achieving this by aligning amazing people with purpose driven roles.

If you’d like more information on the School please visit them here; alternatively if you are interested in opportunities with them, or some of our other clients, you can connect with us.

Future Melbourne Residents Could Trade in Rainwater To Cut Down On Bills

Future Melbourne apartment dwellers may trade unused rainwater from rooftop tanks with their neighbours, cutting down on their water bills.

South East Water is exploring a water-saving concept for Fishermans Bend in Melbourne’s inner south, which would give up to 80,000 future residents a financial incentive to reduce their water consumption. Called “rainwater micro-trading”, it has never been attempted in Australia and is similar to solar energy systems, whereby households save on power costs by selling electricity back into the grid.


%environmental recruitment%talent nationMelbourne by Peter Mackay (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Development plans for Fishermans Bend stipulate that every residential building in the suburb must have a rooftop rainwater tank. The tanks will serve two roles: to provide water supply to occupants, and to capture stormwater to reduce the risk of flooding from heavy downpours, which are expected to become more likely with climate change. The proposal by South East Water is another way in which Melbourne’s government-owned water corporations are planning for a drier future.

Recent analysis by the water corporations found that, at worst, the city’s demand for water could outstrip supply by 2028 and that on more moderate projections chronic water shortages will hit within 25 years. Matt Mollett, a spokesman for South East Water, said its researchers were looking for ways to use less mains water in Fishermans Bend by making much better use of rainwater, stormwater and recycled sewage.

“Water trading is currently used for agricultural irrigation supplies, and enables under-utilised allocations to potentially be used for the benefit of other users, or the water network more broadly,” Mr Mollett said.

“The rainwater micro-trading project seeks to explore whether or not these benefits could be transferred into a residential or urban context in the future.”

The rainwater trading concept is unproven, and will only proceed if investigations find it is feasible. Apartments would each be assigned a quota of free rainwater from the communal tank, which could be used or traded to other residents, leading to a reduced bill from South East Water. The concept is complicated by the likelihood that rooftop tanks in Fishermans Bend will be drained ahead of forecast downpours, to reduce the risk of flooding from runoff. The tanks will automatically respond to weather data from the Bureau of Meteorology. They will also feed water into a large water recycling plant to be built in Fishermans Bend, which will supply treated water for non-drinking uses. It is expected mains water use in Fishermans Bend will be 45 per cent lower than in other built-up parts of Melbourne and 400 megalitres of rainwater will be reused each year.

Professor Tony Wong, chief executive officer of the Co-operative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, said the benefit of rainwater trading would depend on how many apartments per building were using the same tank; a higher number of residents would reduce the available savings to be traded.

“Thinking of rainwater almost as if you are thinking of renewable energy and feeding into the grid is certainly a new concept,” Professor Wong said.

But he said the concept of using a market mechanism to save water in high-density cities was worth exploring.

Fishermans Bend is a 490-hectare development zone planned to be built over the next 30 years into Australia’s largest urban renewal area, with 80,000 residents and 60,000 jobs.

 

Source: The Age