14 Dec 2021
We’re excited to welcome to new members to the GBCA Board and this month we meet Brett Mason, CEO and Managing Director, Built. Brett reflects on his 30 years in the industry and shares his hopes for 2022.
I’m very passionate about our industry but it can be slow moving. When you look at how things were constructed when I started 30 years ago there hasn’t been the rate of change seen in other industries that have undergone major disruption. Sustainability has been on the radar over the last 10 years but in the building industry it became a tick the box exercise driven by contracts requirements rather than really thinking how can we build more sustainably. What is really exciting right now is that we’ve reached a tipping point where ratings are just expected and talking about sustainability isn’t a side conversation but in the centre of what we do, it’s become a competitive advantage. When I look at working with Atlassian now on their new Sydney headquarters which has game changing sustainability targets, it’s a real moment in time for Built and the whole industry to say this is what every building in the future should be aiming for and we as builders need to be part of driving that forward.
I have been lucky to have a great career in the industry in leadership roles and also worked with some very strong and driven Board Members over the years. It’s helped me develop an appreciation for the bigger picture and to always keep an eye on the future. I strongly believe great leadership is about staying ahead of change and embracing the opportunity not the challenge.
My personal knowledge and commitment to sustainability and social impact is strong. Climate change is the greatest challenge of our lifetime and with the building and construction sector responsible for 39% of carbon emissions globally we have a responsibility as an industry to do so much more. I’m very aligned with GBCA’s ambitions and excited by the opportunity to work with Davina and the GBCA Board and coordinate a whole of industry approach to play a role in leading the industry forward in this space.
As one of Australia’s largest construction companies, it’s really important to set the example for the industry. The builder sits at the centre of the supply chain universe, and while it’s absolutely imperative that the developers and asset holders set a sustainability vision for a project, at the end of the day, it’s the contractor who controls the supply chain and is best placed to influence a lot of the sustainability outcomes. We can bring together design and construct partners from the very beginning to challenge and question “can we do more?”. It’s how we’ve been able to not only achieve so many ratings but in over 60% of cases actually uplift them because we identified the opportunities and worked with each part of the supply chain to achieve better outcomes.
When you consider that 39% of global carbon emissions come from the building and construction sector, with 28% of global emissions from operational carbon – how you run a building - reducing this component of carbon is fairly well understood and well on the path to net zero with electrifying buildings to run on renewables, getting rid of fossil fuels and so on.
We believe the next opportunity is in embodied carbon – the carbon footprint created in the construction of buildings and lifetime replacement of materials - which makes up 11% of global emissions. Now as operational carbon gets driven down to net zero all of a sudden embodied carbon is holding a bigger piece of the carbon pie. It’s been unchartered territory until now, which is why we’ve written a report with tangible steps to tackle this part of the equation.
We believe it’s a whole of industry challenge because no one company or group can achieve this on their own. But there is a lot of collaboration happening out there. A lot of conversations with consultants and suppliers and asking how do we make this happen, what do we need to do, and again projects like Atlassian setting new benchmarks. So, I think the industry will get there easily.
With all the challenges of the last two years, I think 2022 will be a watershed year in many respects. Off the back of COP26, the focus on sustainability has sharpened. It’s not good enough to just have good intentions, we need real and meaningful action. I think we’ll see a move from random acts of carbon reduction to it being an expectation and a given on every project. I also think we’ll see a lot more collaboration across the industry and with government working together to drive change.
We have a tendency in the industry, as contractors, to be very competitive and hold onto our intellectual property, but we feel we can only change the industry by sharing our learnings and data which is why we released our embodied carbon report this year.
I think the Australian property industry is in a great position and already well ahead and will continue to do good things and be seen as leaders on the global stage.
Our Board is made up of widely recognised and highly respected industry leaders – all of whom are dedicated to advancing the sustainability of the built environment. GBCA is thrilled to welcome Brett Mason and Peter Bailey to the Board and we look forward to introducing Peter in our first Green Building Voice of 2022.