Part two: Waste, interconnected buildings and behaviour change - ESG improvements in Melbourne

In this part two article we’ll be covering waste consumption, interconnected buildings and behaviour change.

13 Dec 2021

By James Pearson, David Rowlands

Part two: Waste, interconnected buildings and behaviour change - ESG improvements in Melbourne
In part one of our debrief exploring Melbourne’s ESG & Sustainability trends and innovation successes, we covered energy and water consumption and the driving demand for ESG improvements. 

In this part two article we’ll be covering waste consumption, interconnected buildings and behaviour change.

Ways to make waste unwasteful: A circular economy 

There are many sustainability campaigns that we can learn from and use to implement change within businesses. Specifically, principles around a ‘circular economy’ where waste is being turned into new products. There’s a particular effort being made to tackle the organic waste stream seen at commercial sites due to its contaminating nature. Organic waste also has a significant impact in terms of emissions – when it breaks down, it emits greenhouse gases which are contributing to our changing climate.

In another bold move, and one to aspire to is ISPT target to divert 100% of organics from landfill by 2025.

Tackling organic waste is not without its challenges; if transported without prior dehydration, the waste is wet and heavy which can be costly and lead to further emissions associated with the transportation phase. To combat this, businesses are looking at a multi-step solution – dehydration (where possible) and partnering with innovative organic waste processing companies such as Beyond Ag – Victoria’s first and only facility where black soldier flies are used to process food waste that are then harvested to be used as a high protein feed for industries such as aquaculture. By-products such as frass are sold on as fertiliser which you can buy in both domestic and commercial quantities. Processing waste in this manner presents a really exciting opportunity to support the global need to become more ‘circular’.

Packaging waste is another focus area, with food and beverage containers making up 57% of all plastic in our oceans. CBRE provide services on a daily basis to companies who sell and use this packaging and we therefore have an a responsibility to support these retailers to generate better, more sustainable outcomes.

Involvement with global initiatives like Plastic Free July is just one way to help nudge consumer behaviour and evolve poor design choices. 

Shining examples of interconnected buildings in Melbourne

Two landmark CBRE-managed Melbourne properties, 321 Exhibition Street and Tower 3 at Collins Square, are already on a great path towards a more sustainable future. Both have 6 Star NABERS Energy & Water ratings (tracking* if not certified) which identifies these assets as market-leading for resource efficiency. 

The investment into sustainability at either asset (or for some initiatives in both) include electric vehicle charging bays, superbly administered waste management practices including an organics dehydrator, cogeneration, battery storage, solar PV and monthly data monitoring. This demonstrates a major commitment to sustainability, showcasing the benefits of an holistic approach. 

The holistic approach also emphasises the interconnected nature of sustainability within commercial real estate. For example, solar PV which feeds the battery and thus charges the electric vehicles – three initiatives working harmoniously to help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, subsequent emissions and improve localised air quality.

We believe that a site’s well-managed resource use helps build confidence for all stakeholders, fostering an environment that’s not wasteful.

Building design influenced by changed behaviours

Like all other industries today, COVID-19 has changed the way people act and think about sustainability. Social distancing & spacing, more frequent cleaning, flexible working and PPE have all changed the way businesses currently operate. Even the way we move around cities has changed; for example, less people choosing to use public transport and a growth in e-bike ownership by over 300% in the past 18 months.

These small behaviour changes have influenced our need to adapt our buildings again and has accelerated the need deliver more eco-practices which contribute to a more sustainable & thriving city.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be in commercial real estate, as we look to innovate and tackle challenges risen from the pandemic and as urgency to tackle climate change gathers momentum. 

*at date of publication.