Five Minutes with Dr Stefan Hajkowicz

17 May 2018

What global megatrends will shake up our industry and present new challenges and opportunities for sustainability practitioners? CSIRO Senior Principal Scientist, Dr Stefan Hajkowicz will explore the essentials at Green Building Day 2018.

With the arrival of eCommerce giant Amazon set to shake up the Australian retail sector, consumers and merchants alike are bracing themselves for a new era of digitalisation.

But does the Amazon effect pose an threat to property sector?

Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, Senior Principal Scientist at CSIRO, seems to think so.

“The Amazon effect has happened yet. It’s still coming and it’s easier to see the impact this will have on the retail sector because we can forecast a rapid loss of market share based on other regions around the world.

“The building and property industry needs to be agile in responding to this, because it speaks to the global megatrends that will influence the future of our cities and communities.”

Stefan believes these trends span from the development of smart technologies in our buildings, to social changes such as remote working.

“There’s a rise in flexible working and co-working spaces and we see this coming to life in leading precincts such as Sydney’s Barangaroo, but looking to the wider office sector, this trend isn’t expressing itself just yet.

“In cities like Sydney and Melbourne, where density around the CBD is increasing, getting to work is painful for commuters. Soon, working remotely is going to be a necessary option for the workforce and it’s the industry’s responsibility to adopt technology for teleworking. “

On an environmental scale, Stefan points to the challenges we face in tackling climate change, especially considering that the built environment currently contributes around a quarter of Australia’s carbon emissions.

“We need to lead the way on renewable energy – and fast. What’s fantastic is the uptake of Green Star in the commercial property sector, which will help reduce the environmental impact of our buildings, cities and communities.”

In Adelaide, 6 Star Green Star rated Tonsley Innovation Precinct is a living example of how technology and community-centric planning can help a city thrive.

Attracting the likes of Elon Musk and Sanjeev Gupta, the precinct is home to some of the world’s leading tech innovation projects, through setting up business incubators and leading-edge research institutions.

“When talk about the Amazon effect, which is just about the arrival of digitalisation and new technologies in our market, Tonsley demonstrates why the impact isn’t necessarily negative – it acts as an opportunity to embrace change for better outcomes,” Stefan says.

Adelaide isn’t alone in its attitude to embrace the unknown.

Projects are taking shape all across Australia that are recalibrating the way we envisage buildings, cities and communities.

In Sydney, there’s Barangaroo, globally renowned as a cutting edge sustainable community. In Melbourne, Fisherman’s Bend will tackle key social issues such as density and housing affordability through new housing and infrastructure. 

And in Brisbane, there’s tangible excitement around Queens Wharf – a project that will aim to enliven the CBD and cement the river city as connected community.

“It’s all about catalysing activity in our city centres. What is unknown is how the community will respond to these places in the years to come.

“Regardless, the building industry needs to change to facilitate growth, adapt to new technologies and design with the challenges of climate change in mind. My hope is to pave a pathway to how we can do this successfully.”

Stefan is the keynote speaker at Green Building Day 2018 and will be presenting his research, thoughts and ideas across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.