The Sustainability View from Down Under

Posted on March 30, 2016

Sydney Opera House

A great view of the iconic Sydney Opera House, which recently received World Heritage recognition as well as green building certification. It was one stop during my time in Australia.

Green Cities Conference

A great crowd was on hand for the Green Cities Conference in Sydney.

Last week, I was pleased to participate in the Green Cities Conference in Sydney, Australia, co-hosted by the Green Building Council of Australia and the Property Council of Australia. Green Cities is Australia’s premier sustainability conference and I enjoyed meeting with fellow sustainability professionals “down under.”

According to the World Green Building Trends 2016 report by Dodge Data & Analytics®, Australia is a mature green building market with a clear commitment to green building:

• By 2018, nearly half of the respondents expect that more than 30 percent of their projects will be green.
• According to 46 percent of respondents, supporting the domestic economy is a top social reason for building green – the highest of any country covered in the survey and far more than the global average of 29 percent.

Sydney buildings

A look at the built environment in Sydney.

I participated in a panel discussion about how productivity can be a part of the “healthy buildings prescription.” I shared the results of The COGfx Study, which showed that green buildings have a positive impact on cognitive function, and discussed the study’s implications for further accelerating the green building movement. I enjoyed engaging in conversation with my fellow panelists and a crowd of 500 attendees on how this study can change everything for how we think about buildings.

During my trip, I had the opportunity to meet with sustainability experts and learn about initiatives in Australia firsthand. If what I saw in Sydney is any indication, the connection of health and productivity to green buildings is here to stay.

Engine Alliance Engine

My flight to Australia was powered by a fuel-efficient Engine Alliance engine – built by Pratt & Whitney and GE Aviation. Green aviation has an important role to play in supporting sustainable urbanization.

The conference highlighted case studies of healthy work places in action as well as impressive commitments by property owners and developers to integrate health and productivity into green design. This echoes the World Green Building Trends survey data that showed 30 percent of respondents in Australia consider healthier neighborhoods a top trigger of green building by 30 percent, double the global average. In 2012, only 11 percent of Australian respondents considered this important, suggesting an increased focus of the impact of buildings on health in the country.


The passion for green building was readily apparent from conference attendees and government leaders, including Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, who kicked off the conference stating that green cities are also an important economic asset.

Overall, I learned a great deal in Sydney and left impressed by the commitment to sustainability showcased at the Green Cities Conference. Looking forward to my next visit!

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