Top 10 TRANSFORM takeaways

30 Mar 2021

TRANSFORM is known for driving action for healthy, resilient and positive places and selecting the key TRANSFORM moments is hard, but we’ve done it for you. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it does cover the breadth of topics explored at our annual conference.

1.   The new normal is that we don’t know what the new normal is

“We are learning to live through uncertainty,” said GBCA chair and CEO of Mirvac, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, during our Day 1 power panel. Our challenge is to make “value-based decisions” rather than work to a “playbook” Susan explained.

2.   If we’re making values-based decisions, a healthy planet is our priority

As COP26 champion Gonzalo Muñoz said: “Science has spoken loud and clear. If we are suffering a disease called ‘climate crisis’, then the cure is 1.5 degrees. And the treatment is net zero.”

3.   COVID has shifted the dial on climate action

Professor John Thwaites reflected on why Australia had “outperformed on COVID-19 and underperformed on climate change”. The differentiator was a clear bipartisan goal of zero community transmission on COVID, compared with conflict on net zero emissions, John said. This unified approach on COVID is one for Australia to replicate on climate.

4.   Recovery and resilience depend on equity

Lauren Sorkin, Executive Director of the Resilient Cities Network, said the big lessons COVID has taught cities was, first and foremost, that without equity there is no resilience. “We are only as strong in our cities as our weakest members of society.”

5.   Green bonds drive deeper investor relationships

We know the money has started to move. More than US$1.1 trillion in green bonds were issued last year – a fact that even surprised CEO of Climate Bonds Initiative, Sean Kidney. While green bonds now deliver a clear price benefit, even greater value was found in “deeper and different relationships with investors,” Sean said.

6.   The biggest companies are stepping up

Microsoft has a market capitalisation greater than the GDP of many countries, which means the tech titan has an oversized role to play in our net zero future. Microsoft plans to offset its emissions right back to its foundation in 1975. At the heart of this strategy is an impressive green building agenda, including of the largest geothermal exchanges in the United States.

7.   We’ve entered a new era of the engaged tenant

Our own homegrown tech giant, Atlassian, showed us what an engaged tenant looks like. Atlassian’s new headquarters at Central Station will be powered 100% renewable energy not just “because it’s the right thing to do” but because it will attract and retain the top talent, said Atlassian’s Project Director, Bronwyn Zorgdrager.

8.   Green Homes are on the horizon

Australia’s biggest builders deliver less than 15% of our total housing stock. This fragmentation means “no single entity can make a silver bullet,” Frasers Property Australia’s Rod Fehring argued eloquently. The market is moving. Ten organisations are testing the Green Star Homes standard and the new consumer-focused reality show, Renovate or Rebuild, is in production. We must maintain the momentum to ensure sustainable homes are “practical, simple and something that the customer values,” said Stockland’s Andrew Whitson.

9.   Start thinking in circles

The circular economy means far more than waste management. Planet Ark predicts the circular economy could add $210 billion to Australia's economy by 2048. Circularity is also a central principal of net zero. We heard dozens of examples of how to translate the theoretical into the practical – from rethinking design to refusing to use in the first place.

10.  Look back to learn how to move forward

Environmentalist Tim Jarvis AM concluded an intense two-day conversation with a compelling adventure story. In retracing Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to cross Antarctica, Tim saw the evidence of climate change in shrinking glaciers and melting habitat. But rather than a message of misery, Tim urged our audience to see Shackleton’s example of overcoming the seemingly insurmountable. Shackleton was a “pragmatic optimist” and an honest, direct and solutions-oriented leader. This leadership approach is one for all those stepping up to the sustainability challenge.

TRANSFORM delegates can re-watch these sessions and more online. Did you miss out on TRANSFORM? Our Green Building Day takes place soon, these live events are an opportunity to connect, dive into Green Star case studies and learn from our industry’s best.

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