Green Leadership: Knowing the Way, Going the Way, Showing the Way

Monday, November 7, 2016

The definition of a leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. And that’s what Australia’s industry leaders have done with sustainability.

Over recent years, the annual GRESB scores have become a hotly-contested prize as companies in Australia vie for regional and even global leadership.

This year, the average GRESB score of companies and funds in Australia/New Zealand was 74, compared with the global average of 60. This “unbroken streak of global leadership”, as Ruben Langbroek put it, is something of which our entire industry is proud.

Australia’s sustainability story is well known – but it was many years in the making.

Before Green Star shot onto the market in 2003, the property and construction industry had no agreed metrics or methodology to measure green building practices, few assessment tools and few benchmarks for best practice.

There was no organised approach to knowledge-sharing or collaboration. Nor was there any way for the industry to promote or profit from green building leadership.

A small but committed band of leaders with a deep conviction that sustainability wasn’t just the right thing to do, it was the smart thing to do for their businesses – and those early leaders have capitalised on this leadership.

Let me share with you some stories of what sustainability leadership looks like in Australia.

The team at Stockland, which was named GRESB’s global sector leader for diversified office/retail, has worked tirelessly to embed sustainability across everything they do – to improve the performance of assets, enhance the transparency of the supply chain, and build communities loved by people.

Stockland has achieved more Green Star – Communities ratings than any other developer in Australia, and some of its communities are so large they will one day have their own postcodes. Stockland was the first to obtain Green Star certification for its entire retail portfolio – and the largest single rooftop solar system on its retail centre at Shellharbour, south of Sydney, generates enough power to offset 1,700 tonnes of carbon emissions each year. This system was funded by Stockland’s ‘green bond’ issuance – a first in Australia.

Frasers Property Australia’s GRESB performance improved for the fourth year running, this year topping the table of all diversified office/industrial/non-listed funds. Earlier this year, Frasers Property secured the industry’s first ever Green Star portfolio rating for commercial and industrial properties.

Frasers Property has achieved more than 80 Green Star ratings for a vast array of projects, some of which are now considered green building icons – such as One Central Park in Sydney, recognised as the world’s best tall building a few years ago.

Others are setting new benchmarks for sustainable communities, such as Fairwater in Sydney’s west, which features the largest installation of geothermal heating and cooling technology in the southern hemisphere.

DEXUS’s listed office portfolio achieved GRESB’s ‘regional sector leader status’, which is hardly surprising when you consider it now has 87 Green Star ratings and some of the nation’s most iconic green buildings, such as the sparkling skyscraper 1 Bligh Street and sandstone 5 Martin Place in Sydney.

DEXUS has been benchmarking the sustainability performance of its listed property portfolio since 2008, and has cut energy consumption by 40 per cent since then. The team has set another ambitious target – a further 10 per cent reduction by 2020.

And Lendlease was also recognised as a ‘regional sector leader’ for its steadfast commitment to sustainability in the retail and office – private categories. Lendlease’s APPF Commercial ranked third globally of 759 international companies. Whether it’s on $12bn Barangaroo South site in Sydney or at the world’s tallest timber residential building, Forté in Melbourne, sustainability is a central pillar of Lendlease’s business strategy.

Australia’s leadership in sustainable infrastructure is also emerging. GRESB’s recently-released infrastructure report ranked AMP Capital’s Diversified Infrastructure Trust – one of the longest running infrastructure funds globally – as the top fund. Among AMP Capital’s assets are the Melbourne Airport and the M5 in Sydney, and the fund was the only one globally to achieve a GRESB score of more than 50.

As the stories of Australia’s GRESB leaders show, sustainability is now used as a driver of change, a way to enhance the resilience of assets, support people and creating long-term value for communities.