The People Project: Jessica Stewart, Ginninderry Sustainability Manager

Who brings Green Star projects to life? Meet Ginninderry Sustainability Manager, Jessica Stewart, who walks us through her experience working on Canberra's 6 Star Green Star rated community.

How does your role help bring Ginninderry to life?

As Sustainability Manager for the project it’s my job to implement our sustainability vision through Ginninderry. This includes our master planning and estate development planning process as well as the components of sustainability associated with our new residents. Education is a key focus area for me – without talking to our new residents, our planners, our engineers and our Government partners and bringing them along on the sustainability journey, we will not truly build a sustainable community. 

What are some of the biggest roadblocks you’ve faced along the way?

Often, people think that sustainability is only about the environment, or saving energy or using less water. It is often not thought of as a considered single unit that influences each economic, societal and planning decision. Sustainability is a vast and often complex idea to get your head around. I suppose that has been the biggest challenge that I work through daily – how to communicate sometimes complex ideas in a way that is helpful and informative without being overpowering or overly complicated.

I am very lucky to work with a project team that are committed to the sustainability vision of Ginninderry and with an executive team that backs its staff and their ideas. So, I haven’t faced many roadblocks yet that been able to be resolved or worked through.

What aspects of Ginninderry are you most proud of?

Our sense of community! We are building something very special here – building community not just bricks and mortar. As a project team, we work together to support each other – our team is a community in itself. Ginninderry is really a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on. It’s not every day that you get to work on a project that will last for 30-40 years with a true commitment to sustainability.

What did you learn from being involved in Ginninderry’s construction that will stick with you?

We get to work with some incredible designers, researchers and builders through Ginninderry – each who have accepted and take on the vision for Ginninderry. The best outcomes have come from us working together to realise outcomes – communication is key.

I have learnt so much from my team mates about being inclusive and honest in knowledge sharing – by including all interested stakeholders early on in the planning process has meant that innovation and collective thinking has occurred – with a true community spirit. 

I learn something new every day from the people I get to engage - from the 7-year old who wants Aboriginal rock art included within the stepping stones of their playground to the 80-year old who has worked as a farmer on this land for the past 40 years. Each has their own story and input for this community.

Who did you work closely with on this project?

Sustainability touches all parts of this project which means that I get to work closely with a real variety of people. This includes our existing community partners, our new community, our school kids, our University researchers, our engineers, our planners, our landscape architects, our Government colleagues, our project team and anyone else who wants to work with us! We have around 80 consultancy groups, many stakeholder groups, school students that we interact with. All have a voice and all are part of the Ginninderry journey.

What are you most excited about for the future of our industry?

Sharing our learnings. We have a great resource within Australia of sustainability managers working in the development space. We are an incredibly knowledgeable bunch and we work well together. Sustainability is always a moving space – with new innovations and efficiencies popping up almost daily. I’m excited about learning from my colleagues throughout Australia and the world about how to build great communities that thrive.