Three peak industry bodies in the built environment sign declaration of commitment to sustainable development

BDAA - SDG Align Signed declaration

Press release

Hobart – Sydney, November 2nd, 2021 The built environment is not only the largest employer in Australia, but is also responsible for 75% of all carbon emissions. Three leading peak industry bodies, Consulting Surveyors National, Building Designers Association of Australia and Strata Community Association have joined forces with social impact specialists SDG Align to sign the Declaration of Commitment to Sustainable Development. SDG Align’s strategy design process and Ready Reckoner prototype won the Australian Good Design Awards in the social impact category.

The industry leads the response to consumer demand

Consumers are demanding action on climate change, and voting with their wallets seeking out sustainable products and green buildings. 

Businesses, whether driven by profit or altruism or both, are motivated to meet this demand and do their bit but they are unsure how. In fact, many of the 632,000 businesses operating in the built environment (nearly 30% of all Australian business) do not have sustainable development on their business horizon.  

Industry associations play a leading role in supporting and educating their members on issues of global importance. Achieving a sustainable future by 2050 is one of these issues. The industry currently has low levels of data on sustainable development to benchmark performance and businesses have poor access to resources and support. 

As a signatory to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and following the Conference goals of COP26 in Glasgow, the Australian Government must step up to implement the SDGs and the 2030 agenda. 

For many in the built environment, the conversation around sustainability is limited to climate change. The SDGs, however, provide a far more nuanced and encompassing notion of sustainability that equally highlights social and economic imperatives, the triple bottom line.  

Now it’s up to businesses, industry and Government to work together with urgency to meet the wicked challenges of climate change.

Uniting to lead the sustainable development journey 

David Morgan, Founder & MD, SDG Align “We are delighted to be working with these pioneering and committed associations – they are well placed in the industry to have a really catalytic effect on the opportunities and challenges that exist in sustainable development”

Michelle Blicavs, CEO, Association of Consulting Surveyors: 

“Businesses across Australia play an important role for a sustainable future and Consulting Surveyors are committed to playing their part.  The Association of Consulting Surveyors National (CSN) represents the private businesses operating land surveying firms.   There is a surveying firm in every major centre and town around the country actively creating and building communities that ensure our country thrives. Sustainable business practices at the early stages of land development means Surveyors can lead the way for Sustainable Development into the future.”

Chris Knierim, CEO Building Designers Association of Australia

“We envisage a major opportunity for interested designers to step into the critical role of sustainable development experts, becoming trusted advisors on broader topics like net-zero construction, thermal performance, water management, circular design, approvals and green and comfortable living. That’s why, by signing the declaration for a sustainable future, the BDAA is working towards developing deeper involvement of the building design sector in the construction, management, service and renewal phases of the built environment cycle to ensure our visions become reality without compromise.”

Alisha Fisher, CEO Strata Community Association 

“SCA is proud to make our commitment to action for a sustainable future.  We believe it is important that our members embrace a sustainable future and that they play a critical role in propagating these practices to the communities they manage.  Strata managers are custodians of the built environment and are centrally placed to contribute to the social, economic, and environmental impacts within the built environment. Our holistic view of all the pieces of the puzzle gives us the opportunity, and responsibility, to raise our profile and start to take a leading role in bringing the industry together on the journey.”

Taking action with the sustainable development Ready Reckoner 

The three associations will work with SDG Align to help their members benchmark their businesses operations from a sustainable development perspective, learn from each other and build capacity through short courses and diagnostic tools.   

By recognising that most businesses are already making a positive contribution and highlighting areas for improvement, the Ready Reckoner makes immediate practical recommendations to further engage businesses to increase their collaborative impact on economy, society and environment for all of us working and living in the Australian built environment. 

About Building Designers Association of Australia (BDAA)

A champion for building designers.
The Building Designers Association of Australia (BDAA) is the single national association that represents, advocates for, promotes and connects building designers throughout Australia.

The BDAA has been cited as a consultant and direct influence on nationwide building reform, with association leaders advising national councils in a constant quest to preserve and enhance the Australian built environment.

More information: 

About Consulting Surveyors National (CSN)

CSN’ purpose is to promote the profession of surveying, representing and supporting the interest of surveying consultancies through relevant training and connection to build business acumen.

The Association of Consulting Surveyors National was established in June 2011 with a goal to bring surveying consultancies together from across Australia with a focus on national advocacy. Our research into the skills shortage for the profession has been widely received and used by the industry to advocate for increased importance of the profession for land development across Australia.

We now have 300 member firms with a goal to have 400 surveying firms by June 2023 from across Australia.

More information: 

About Strata Community Association (SCA)

​​Strata Community Association (SCA) is the peak industry body for Body Corporate and Community Title Management (also referred to as Strata Management, Strata Title or Owners Corporations Management) in Australia and New Zealand.

 Our 5,000 individual and corporate members include strata/body corporate managers, support staff, owners’ representatives and suppliers of products and services to the industry. SCA proudly fulfils the dual roles of a professional institute and consumer advocate.

 We believe in taking action with urgency in order to raise public awareness about some of the most pressing issues facing today’s society. Please join us by supporting our efforts to make a measurable difference for the community.

More information: 

About SDG Align 

SDG Align is a social impact startup from Hobart, Tasmania. Its European (Dutch) and Australian founders have deep experience and expertise in change management, business, technology, training and the United Nations SDGs. Our mission is to improve sustainable development outcomes by those working in the built environment.   

Check out our tools for Sustainable development.

SDG Align recognised for Social Impact with Australian Good Design Award


October 14th Sydney – Hobart – ‘SDG Align’s – Ready Reckoner Tool for Sustainable Development’ Recognised in Australia’s International Good Design Awards for Design Excellence.

The winners of Australia’s peak international design awards were announced today during the 2021 Good Design Awards Week. The Good Design Awards are the highest honour for design and innovation in the country and reward projects across 12 design disciplines and 30 subcategories.  SDG Align’s Sustainable Development Self-Assessment tool Ready Reckoner received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade in the Social Impact category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation.

SG Align Ready Reckoner – Good Design Award – Social Impact – Winner -2021

“We are delighted to be winning such a prestigious award.  Our mission and vision is ambitious – our design and focus is all about creating the biggest impact we can.  We’ve only been in business for 18 months and have already touched many thousands of businesses through our partners.  Part of this success is good design and part is because this a problem that needs to be solved, for us all.  This award will really help us build the business and have greater social impact.”

David Morgen, Managing Director of SDG Align

The 2021 Good Design Awards attracted a record number of submissions with 933 design projects evaluated by more than 70 Australian and international Jurors, including designers, engineers, architects and thought leaders. Each entry was evaluated according to a strict set of design evaluation criteria which includes good design, design innovation and design impact. Projects recognised with an Australian Good Design Award demonstrate excellence in professional design and highlight the impact a design-led approach has on business success and social and environmental outcomes.

“Great to see the building industry embracing the UN SDGs and finding tangible ways to better understand and demonstrate their contributions towards the achievement of the SDGs. It makes the SDGs much more accessible and the assessment function is stand-out — helping businesses understand their strengths and weaknesses. This could have great impact — informing action. Well done.

The Good Design Awards Jury 2021

The Australian Good Design Awards is the country’s oldest and most prestigious international awards for design and innovation with a proud history dating back to 1958. The Awards celebrate the best new products and services on the Australian and international market, excellence in architectural design, precinct design, engineering, fashion, digital and communication design, and reward new and emerging areas of design including design strategy, social impact design, design research and up-and-coming design talent in the Next Gen category.

Dr. Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia said: “Receiving an Australian Good Design Award is testament to embedding design excellence at the heart of a product, service, place or experience. Although 2021 continues to be another challenging year, it is incredibly inspiring to see designers and businesses working together to find innovative, customer-centric design solutions to local and global challenges and to see them recognised and rewarded for their efforts through these prestigious Awards.”

“The importance of embracing good design principles is now more important than ever as many businesses around the world have had to completely re-think their business strategies to remain competitive. The standard of design excellence represented in this year’s Awards is the best I’ve ever seen in my 25 years of running these Awards, an encouraging sign that the design sector is flourishing,” Dr. Gien went on to say.

About Good Design Australia and the Australian Good Design Awards

Good Design Australia is an international design promotion organisation responsible for managing Australia’s annual Good Design Awards and other signature design events. With a proud history that dates back to 1958, Good Design Australia remains committed to promoting the importance of design to business, industry, government and the general public and the critical role it plays in creating a better, safer and more prosperous world.

Why do we need a Climate Action Plan now?

On August 9th 2021, IPCC published its sixth Assessment report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces a report every six years. The last report dates back to 2014. The world has changed a lot, we’ve experienced more extreme weather conditions than ever before, are in the middle of a global pandemic and our leaders committed to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. But still there is a large part of the global population that is not familiar with what is happening. The lack of familiarity with sustainable development and concrete and practical action plans stop a lot of people from moving in the right direction.

“The climate we experience in the future depends on our choices today”

Valerie Masson Delmotte – IPCC

Awareness of sustainable development

Like the many countries around the world Australia lags in awareness of what sustainable development means and what can be done about it.  This is highlighted in the level of action identified in the IPCC report but is not limited to environmental impacts.  Sustainable Development must also encompass social and economic impacts and must become a central part of day to day conversations and business considerations.

The built environment not only makes a significant contribution to environmental impacts but also houses Australia’s economic and social infrastructure. 

This means the built environment has significant opportunity to improve its efforts.  Ensuring all sectors of the value chain play their part and coordinate effort will be critical, be it government, business or employees.

Small business in the built environment

Small business, which make up 97% of businesses in Australia, are ideally situated to take action and contribute to positive change. Small business tends to be action oriented but, business owners however, are also often short of time and expertise in sustainability. It is in creating awareness of the opportunity in sustainable development that lies the opportunity for business owners and their staff to take up the challenge and change the way we do business.

Doing Business for Good is Good for Business

Small businesses need to consider not only the future benefit of sustainable development and climate action but the positive impact it can have on their businesses. Think about the impact small business can make by:

  • reducing input costs through more efficient products and processes
  • supporting local supply by buying & employing locally
  • minimising material costs by reducing waste
  • improving collective impact through collaboration

An important question to answer is: “What does sustainable development mean to you?
Please take a moment to participate in our poll.

Sector versus Industry approach to sustainable development

Many small businesses rely on their industry associations to provide leadership, tools and support and Sustainable Development support and guidance should be on your association’s agenda. If it is not then make some noise!

SDG Align is working with association across the built environment to develop and deploy tools to support and small business take action and would like to hear from you about what tools your sector needs.

When it comes to Climate Action all action is good but planned and coordinated action is better. Across the built environment many sectors feel siloed or disconnected from others. Coordinated action starts with aligning the stakeholders in the built environment cycle. Start thinking as a regenerative circle really is the beginning.

The built environment life cycle

Residential and commercial dwellings have a long lasting impact on the environment. Once a building is developed and constructed there is at least 50 to 100 years of managing and servicing (maintenance) of the building. Sustainable or Circular Building become more and more popular to minimise the impact buildings have during their life span on environment , society and economy. Green, efficient and liveable buildings are the future.

We have to redesign the way we plan, construct, manage and service residential and commercial buildings and the only way we can do it is together. Our experience with Building Designers Association of Australia, Strata Community Association and Consulting Surveyors National shows that together we can move forward. It is time to take action. Together.

The following section are a brief overview of the IPCC headline statements and images as shared during the IPCC press conference on Monday August 9th 2021.

IPCC Report Headline Statements: The Current State of the Climate

IPCC statements on the current state of the climate:

  • It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.
    Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have
  • The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state
    of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many
    thousands of years.
  • Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in
    every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as
    heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their
    attribution to human influence, has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).
  • Improved knowledge of climate processes, paleoclimate evidence and the response of the
    climate system to increasing radiative forcing gives a best estimate of equilibrium climate
    sensitivity of 3°C, with a narrower range compared to AR5.

Possible Climate Futures

Possible Climate futures statements from IPCC

  • Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all
    emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded
    during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other
    greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.
  • Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global
    warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine
    heatwaves, and heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions,
    and proportion of intense tropical cyclones, as well as reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow
    cover and permafrost.
  • Continued global warming is projected to further intensify the global water cycle, including
    its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events
  • Under scenarios with increasing CO2 emissions, the ocean and land carbon sinks are
    projected to be less effective at slowing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for
    centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.

Regional Impact on Global warming

IPCC Statements on Climate Information for Risk Assessment and Regional Adaptation

  • Natural drivers and internal variability will modulate human-caused changes, especially at
    regional scales and in the near term, with little effect on centennial global warming. These
    modulations are important to consider in planning for the full range of possible changes.
  • With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience
    concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers. Changes in several climatic
    impact-drivers would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming and
    even more widespread and/or pronounced for higher warming levels.
  • Low-likelihood outcomes, such as ice sheet collapse, abrupt ocean circulation changes,
    some compound extreme events and warming substantially larger than the assessed very
    likely range of future warming cannot be ruled out and are part of risk assessment.

Limiting Future Climate Change

Limiting Future Climate change scenario statements IPCC

  • From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific
    level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2
    emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions. Strong, rapid
    and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting
    from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality.
  • Scenarios with low or very low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (SSP1-1.9 and SSP1-
    2.6) lead within years to discernible effects on greenhouse gas and aerosol
    concentrations, and air quality, relative to high and very high GHG emissions scenarios
    (SSP3-7.0 or SSP5-8.5). Under these contrasting scenarios, discernible differences in
    trends of global surface temperature would begin to emerge from natural variability within
    around 20 years, and over longer time periods for many other climatic impact-drivers (high


SDG Align – Good Design Awards 2021 listing

SDG Align Ready Reckoner

We’re proud to announce that we’ve submitted our Double loop design and Ready Reckoner Prototype to the Good Design awards in the Social Impact category. The Overarching theme is “Design for a brighter future” and Sustainable development is becoming more and more recognised as an important direction for Australian business and design” states the chairman of the 2021 Design awards listing announcement

Doing business for good is good for business

The purpose of the Ready Reckoner is not only to start a conversation about what sustainable development means to your business but also provides valuable insights through the dashboard indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the business . The Ready Reckoner provides insights from two perspectives and seven dimensions:
1) Sustainable Development, measuring the current impact on social, economic and environmental dimensions
2) Balanced scorecard dimensions internal processes, finance, innovation & growth and customers & stakeholders.

SDG Align Ready Reckoner - environment

Associations leading the way to a sustainable future

We thank our commissioning partners Consulting Surveyors National, Building Design Association Australia and Strata Community Association and their Taskforce members for supporting the development of this innovative project for the Australian built environment.  

Timeline and Good Design Awards pitch

The jury will announce winners on September 17th so we have a few steps to go. You can find our listing here in the Good Design 2021 Gallery or just listen to our pitch in the video below.

What can you contribute to a sustainable future?

How the global pandemic and sustainability trends has become a huge opportunity for Consulting Surveyors National (CSN)

The global pandemic, extreme weather events in Australia and a growing consumer awareness for sustainability have emphasized the urgency for environmental, societal and economic change towards a new way of working and living. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved in 2015 by 193 nations, are a global framework of 17 ‘wicked problems’ that require governments, civilians and private sector to solve in partnership.

The aspiration is to create global solutions towards 2030, eliminating poverty, caring for the environment and leaving no-one behind. Australia is currently listed number 37 (2019) on the Global Sustainable Development Report rankings,  with nearly 60% of the general public unfamiliar with the content of the SDGs according to a 2019 global survey from the World Economic Forum. That’s quite substantial, if you compare it with the global average, which is 42%. So, there’s a lot to gain. And there’s a lot of knowledge to be gained by industry sectors in the built environment, specifically, the built environment is responsible for over 37% of global CO2 emissions, making it one of the largest polluters in the world.

Some of Consulting Surveyor National’s (CSN) members are already committed to these goals, but the majority, like most Australians, is not aware of the SDGs. Sustainability means different things to professionals working in various sectors in the built environment. What’s the impact of the SDGs for the built environment? How can CSN help to build partnerships for change and lead the industry by example towards a more sustainable future. And how can the SDGs help to solve the workforce challenges the surveyors have in the near future.

It was with that in mind CSN teamed up with SDG Align to explore the opportunities of the UNSDGs in the built environment. CSN formed a Sustainability Taskforce of 15 industry leaders, academics and corporate sponsors, who during a 90-day period from October through to December 2020 participated in a Digital Double Loop Design Process. In this case the COVID-19 lockdown was a blessing in disguise. The Taskforce, facilitated by the SDG Align consultants, was able to work very efficiently and without travel cost. Using digital whiteboards from via Zoom sessions the Taskforce co-created a ‘5 step bold vision canvas’. CSN envisions the following:

We want to drive the Sustainable Development Goals in Australian built environment forward by leading the conversation across the industry 

Preliminary research results from an expert survey shows CSN members are currently prioritising SDG 3: Good health and wellbeing, SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth and SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy. Looking at affordable and clean energy of course, surveyors are able to define the places where renewable energy solar plants and of course hydrogen plans can be built. So they play a very important role in that sector. Many don’t even realise that having ownership of land is a fundamental requirement to achieve Good health and wellbeing. If you can’t be sure about the land you own how can you make a living or become economically independent of aid? Think about that!

The Taskforce studied the current context of the built environment from a surveyor’s point of view and then went into an ‘ideation’ process to come up with new ‘sustainable’ business models that take into account minimizing the cost for the environment and society and maximizing revenue for the organization, but also for society and the environment.

Because of the global pandemic and increasing awareness with governments such as the Victorian Government the opportunity to “level-up” the knowledge about the SDGs is now. In particular if we look at surveyors and spatial professionals. They can be leading this movement because they are the digital experts in visualising the impact of the SDGs. They can build digital twins of cities and demonstrate how a circular economy fueled by solar- and wind power would look like. That’s why the Taskforce advised CSN to educate the sector and prototype and develop an SDG recognition framework for professionals and they are business so they can lead the change towards more sustainable behaviour in the built environment. As an industry association CSN can align industry associations, their member organisations and professions to see that rebuilding the built environment in a circular way is the step forward. To lead the built environment towards a more sustainable future and be recognised for it.

This article was published on pages 21-23 of the February 2021 issue of Consulting Surveyor’s National Magazine: The Surveyor.


[2] World Economic Forum press release