Reflections on our first Sustainable Development Toolkit deployments


As we conclude 2021, our first full calendar year of operations  I’d like to reflect on what we’ve learnt and share some of our lessens with you.

Validating our riskiest assumptions 

During  the last quarter of 2020 we went on a journey with over sixty stakeholders from three leading industry associations in the Australian built environment. A broad range of small, medium, large and corporate business executives with a basic interest in sustainable development. 

Five step bold vision

We started this journey with the assumption that all businesses are doing something in relation to sustainable development but very few know how to do more.  We got that one right.  Our Ready reckoner self-assessment data showed an overall consistency across all level of business. 

  • most businesses want to commit to sustainable development, but just don’t know how to translate the complex international frameworks into their day-to-day operations. 
  • Visualising  what a business already does in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals motivates business owners and staff to take a next step, 

The lesson to be learned from this is that even businesses that trade on a for purpose platform want to do more and not just to please their customers.  

Businesses run on plans, procedures and processes – it is clear from our early deployments that putting sustainable development into these is the key determinant of changed behaviour.   Take some time to reflect, get inspired by how you can contribute to sustainable development by adding it to your business horizon or create a Bold Vision Canvas with your team. 

Making sustainable development a business habit

Our second assumption was that businesses want to measure their activity and see how they compare to others.  Compare it with wearing a sportswatch to see how you perform as you work out to stay healthy. The jury is still out on this one. 

We have altered our thinking a little, and concluded that adapting behaviour establishes change with more lasting impact than chasing rewards through measurement.  Our data tells us which areas of sustainable development are top of mind for the small business community, we now have measures on this but without individual business action, our impact has not met its intention. 

We are very proud to be working with leading academics from the University of Western Australia and Monash University on this and we will bring you more news on that in 2022.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Our final reflection is the importance of SDG Goal 17 Partnerships for the goals.  A systemic shift needs to occur at societal, business and industry/government levels.  The process has many dimensions, like the Rubik’s Cube, changing one dimension creates a change in the other dimensions. The importance of engaging the business community and its entire value chain cannot be understated.  

We look forward to working with you in 2022 and wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Christmas break!

How Formula 1 is so much more than racing

It’s game on for sustainable development in sports

This weekend we will find out if Max Verstappen will be the first Dutch Formula 1 World Champion or if Lewis Hamilton wins his eight world title. But there’s more to Formula 1 than just racing.

This year’s Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort on September 4th was an example of how sustainable development and mass crowd events can go hand in hand. Only 2% of the spectators that came by car and more than 90.000 fans travelled to the circuit by train and bike.

Waste management

But there was more! Another great example was the recycle system. At the entrance all spectators (including me) were given a token to “Never give up your cup“.

Every time you bought a drink you had to hand in your token (valued at € 1,- ). Only if you returned your cup you got your token back. If you still had your token at the end of the event you could win a prize.

Dutch GP

The effect was spectacular. Hardly any waste on the grandstands. A big compliment to Mark Appel and the for supporting this innovative concept as part of a sustainable marketing campaign.

What’s your position on the grid?

Sustainable development is more than just the environment. The Dutch Grand Prix is an example of co-creation and collaboration towards a common goal.

We are very curious to learn what sustainable development means to you. That’s why we Jooske de Groot Maud Zaal Verônica Labad Michiel Hoogenboom Moniek Tiel Groenestege Daphne Saraç Microsoft and Business Models Inc. have teamed up to support business leaders and entrepreneurs in The Netherlands in their sustainable development journey.

If you have 10 minutes to spare today or during the final Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend please flip open your laptop and let us know by completing this self-assessment.

After completion you will get an email with a link to your own sustainable development dashboard to get you up to speed!

Enjoy the race!

Net Zero and a Sense of URGENCY

Australian Housing Data

As a part of SDG Aligns work I am an external member of the Committee for Sustainable Development with the Building Designers Association of Australia (BDAA). I have had the pleasure of working with the most passionate bunch of building designers on the development of a suite of policies and actions on Sustainable Design.

The lead-up to the COP26 summit in Glasgow and the review of the energy efficiency components of the NCC have seen the committees efforts focus on Climate Action and Net Zero first. The COP26 agenda and the IPCC report highlight the need for an increased sense of urgency in this discussion. The BDAA climate committee is on board with this in a big way! Given the chance the committee members would have the targets to be met five years ago.

Sustainable Design

Design in terms of Sustainable Development is a multifaceted and complex topic covering social, economic and environmental considerations

Measure to manage

How are we measuring? Where are we now? and How are we progressing? These were the questions in the debate the other day in the committee. Definitions ranged from Kj to KWh/m2/year to strait out CO2 emitted. We also need to settle on how to balance building efficiency with energy consumption. It may not be the best approach to just put more solar up or buy more offsets without improving the efficiency of the house.

I was pointed to the CSIRO Housing Information Portal and spent quite a bit of time going down a data rabbit hole, so much fun for a bit of a data nerd. The results are not great. The portal information is based on NatHERS start rating and data (the closest we have for a national dataset on energy efficiency). it isn’t perfect as it currently only covers thermal performance (soon to include fixed appliance consumption and generation) but as a benchmark of where we are at today it can paint a picture.

Where are we now and how are we tracking?

From the Australian Housing Data CSIRO portal I found the graph below that displays Nathers ratings across Australia. Based on our current minimum standard of 6 star rated building (average is sitting at 6.2) we have some way to go.

This graph tells us that only about 25% of new houses are planned to exceed 6.5 stars. Also based on the trend line it will be somewhere close to 2050 before we get to 50% exceeding that score.

Australian Housing Data

So does that mean we are on track for 2050?

No we”re not. We will need to collaborate in the built environment cycle and step up the pace of commitment. Let me elaborate on that.

  • The current minimum standard for new houses is 6 stars, soon to move to 7, but is 7 the right number? Consensus amongst the committee, and most of the people I have spoke to about this is that it seems to be that it is a bit low, maybe 8 or 9 stars would be closer to where we need to be.
  • We also can’t wait or plan to stumble over the line at the last possible second. To have any meaningful chance of slowing the rate of climate change on minimising the impacts we need to get to a Net Zero Point VERY QUICKLY! This will need a significant change in tactic, increased urgency and coordinated effort.

What seems certain is that the BDAA will not wait for government to mandate this, they are ready to TAKE ACTION far in excess of government minimum expectations. For the BDAA, leading the way is one of the reasons they have committed to the declaration for sustainable development.

As an external member of BDAA’s committee for sustainable development I’m excited to say that the passion I have witnessed and the leadership demonstrated by the BDAA and many other players in the Built Environment I still maintain some hope that we can achieve the change needed in the time available. But we must all pull together and quickly! Maybe not five years ago, but with some effort a lot sooner the 2030!

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.

The narrative of sustainable development is shifting


When we began the SDG Align journey we needed to spend time making sure our stakeholders were on the same page, sustainability was environmentally focussed and we needed to spend time developing a shared vision of a people centric view of sustainable development. this was time worth spending as those we were working with needed the understanding to begin their journey. since we set out public awareness has shifted, more a more people we meet for the first time already aware of the need.

Why sustainable development

Knowing what a sustainable future looked like also needed to be translated into why business would be interested. what is in it for me? Yes there were passionate people and some of these people were running businesses, large and small, but the majority were not yet there. Many acknowledged the need for action but why would business, particularly small business invest scarce resources and time into sut a global problem?

Doing business for good IS good for business

Throughout our journey we have focussed on this message with our association partners and their members. but why is it good for business?

The shift in consumer sentiment toward sustainable products services and business is rapidly accelerating. consumers are more likely to preference products that are sustainable or buy from businesses who they see as sustainable.

businesses increasingly require a social licence to operate, finding the balance between social, economic and environmental outcomes is no longer a board or management process but a public, transparent exercise that increasing requires data to support claims and build community confidence. and minimise the risk of ‘greenwashing’

Businesses of all sizes rely on their employees. attracting talent, particularly, younger generations, now requires a shared commitment to social justice, equality for all, climate and environmental change, and shared prosperity.

Businesses need to be aligned with their customers, employees, and community expectation to thrive.

A seismic shift is happening

Over the last couple of weeks I have very happy to seen many examples of businesses publicly embracing sustainable development and promoting their commitments. These examples are typically from larger corporates like Coles, Woolworths who, as a duopoly, are now competing not on price and range but on their impact on sustainability. Yes these corporate giants have whole teams identifying what they can do, how they can do it, what they report on, and how they will benefit from this messaging, small businesses don’t have this. How can small business do this without those resources behind them?

While Coles and Woolworths have the resources in-house, small business needs to rely on external help. that is where we come in. By working with peak bodies and associations to do this for their sectors we are producing a small business sustainable development toolkit to make contributing to a sustainable future accessible to small business. demystifying the complex and global world of sustainable development and helping small business make a difference through collective, local actions.

if you want to know how SDG Align can help your sector please reach out, we would love to help you on your journey to a sustainable future.

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