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CitySwitch awards celebrate sustainability superstars

Can a company become a sustainability superstar in just one year? If you talk to the team at Finder, the answer is an emphatic yes.

Just one year ago, no one at comparison site Finder was responsible for driving the company’s sustainability agenda. A year later, Finder is the CitySwitch National New Signatory of the Year.

When Finder appointed Ben King to head up its sustainability and corporate social responsibility agenda in 2018, there were plenty of “quick wins, simple fixes and a lot of low-lying fruit,” he says.

“We’d been on the same energy plan for 10 years and were paying way too much money. We switched to the Energy Locals carbon neutral product and immediately saved around 20 per cent on our bills while reducing our carbon footprint,” Ben, Finder’s CSR & Public Affairs Manager, explains.

“We implemented recycling within our tenancy to match the bins at the bottom of the building and our recycling rates more than doubled virtually overnight” Ben explains.

Ben has helped establish several partnerships. One with OzHarvest now makes best use of leftover free lunches that Finder people are lucky to enjoy each workday. Another with social enterprise and coffee change-maker Kua was applauded as CitySwitch National Partnership Project of the Year.

“Like a lot of offices, we have a real coffee culture at Finder. Kua comes in every two weeks to bring us freshly roasted beans and collects our coffee grounds for composting in community gardens. It’s a small thing but we are very proud of this project,” Ben adds.

Finder also impressed the CitySwitch judges for using its scale to integrate sustainability into its new Finder Green sustainability hub and by introducing sustainability ratings on the Finder energy comparison tables.

“Finder’s team hasn’t just applied sustainability to their own operations, but also to their business delivery to engage customers,” says CitySwitch Program Manager, Kimberly Camrass.

The inspiring case studies at this year’s CitySwitch Awards just keep coming.

National Signatory of the Year (more than 2,000 sqm) went to Commonwealth Bank of Australia for setting ambitious onsite generation and renewables targets, with the bank sourcing 65 per cent of its national electricity needs from renewable energy from January 2019.

The Australian Federal Police was highly commended in the same category for opting for energy efficiency upgrades, rather than carbon offsets to lower its environmental impact and cut energy costs.

National Signatory of the Year (under 2000 sqm) went to Cundall. The judges applauded the consultancy firm’s “holistic approach” to carbon management – which includes behaviour change, energy efficiency projects, renewable generation and carbon offsetting as a last resort – as the “gold standard”.

Steensen Varming, which took home the NSW Signatory of the Year (under 2,000) was highly commended nationally for its impressive waste reduction efforts. By collaborating with the building manager and neighbouring tenants, Steensen Varming has amplified its efforts, mentoring and supporting other companies and encouraging employees to spread the message beyond the office.

ANZ was highly commended in the National New Signatory of the Year category for an array of solar and waste projects creating impact and engaging employees.

“In many large office buildings, tenancies can account for around fifty per cent of energy use – so the work of CitySwitch Signatories really matters,” Kimberly says.

CitySwitch now represents nearly 900 offices around Australia, or 15 per cent of Australia’s office space.

Collectively, CitySwitch Signatories have chalked up a massive 923,671 tonnes of carbon abatement over the last year while also working to eliminate single use plastics, embrace the circular economy, compete in the Better Buildings Cup pilot and find ‘beyond the bin’ solutions.

“CitySwitch has created a powerful network that uses collective influence to drive climate action,” Kimberley adds.

“CitySwitch is a groundswell of collective local action, partnership and leadership that involves more than one million people and three billion dollars of spending power.

“All of this year’s winners are delivering concrete action and a blueprint for a positive, regenerative future – and their example will act as inspiration as we redouble our efforts in 2020.”



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Industry News

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Source: The Fifth Estate A project that slashed carbon emissions by 43 per cent has seen Future Proofing Geelong and Ryrie Centre Property take home the National Partnership of the Year Award at the national CitySwitch awards for commercial office energy efficiency.

CBRE took home the National Signatory of the Year award following their NSW win, while another NSW winner, Echo Entertainment Group, took home the National New Signatory of the Year award

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Source: Retrofit AustraliaIn June, the City of Sydney signed an Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) to fund energy efficient lighting, air conditioning and building management system (BMS) upgrades to James’ Hall  in Sydney. Under these agreements tenants provide contributions equal to or less than the savings they make in their utility bills as a result of the upgrade works. These contributions can then be used by the building owner to service the loan repayments and greatly improve the return on investment.  In addition, once the EUA is paid off, the tenants and building owner continue to benefit from reduced utility bills.

The Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness (chapter 8)

Source: The Fifth Estate

Despite the best intentions, most building owners and tenants struggle to keep up regular communication that could enhance their efficient use of the building, improve wellbeing of employees and substantially cut their business costs.

Find out more about the CitySwitch Vertical Communities initiative, the benefits of collaboration from industry and successful tenant and landlord staff engagement  programs in this latest chapter.

How the Renewable Energy Target affects your business

Source: The Fifth Estate

Changes to the RET could have significant implications for businesses wanting to take steps to reduce carbon footprints. Darren Willman from Climate Friendly a CitySwitch signator, discusses the impact of changes to the RET and why businesses should want to defend it in this article for The Fifth Estate.

CitySwitch partners with RMIT students to deliver resource assessments

Source: The Fifth EstateCommercial office tenant energy efficiency program CitySwitch has partnered with graduating environment students from RMIT to deliver resource assessments for participating signatories in Melbourne. There is only availability for 10-12 businesses this year, with only current CitySwitch signatories eligible.

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Events

CitySwitch awards

CitySwitch awards

Save the date for the CitySwitch NSW and National award to be held on 20 November.



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Latest case study

Case study: Frasers Property and healthy buildings

Case study: Frasers Property and healthy buildings

This case study looks at how Frasers Property Australia are creating places that support healthier lives.



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CitySwitch Signatory of the Year and New Signatory Awards - category judging criteria

  • Delivering outcomes as demonstrated by an improved or maintained current NABERS Energy rating and achieved energy savings* (up to 28 points)
  • Implementing one or more energy saving initiatives (up to 10 points)
  • Demonstrating leadership by undertaking innovative, creative or progressive office energy efficiency activities (up to 10 points)
  • Engagement of staff/ customers/suppliers and/or stakeholders to educate and create market transformation (up to 10 points)
  • Participation in CitySwitch local program activities (up to 10 points).
Note, new Signatories submitting for New Signatory of the Year Award need only complete an indicative rating – all other submissions must be accredited.

CitySwitch Partnership of the Year Award - category judging criteria

Eligibility Criteria

Submitted projects should:

  • Involve more than one registered company 
  • Demonstrate that they are  innovative and over and above “business as usual”
  • Demonstrate that they catalyse “market transformation” and or “address a market barrier”
  • Deliver a reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions within the built environment 

Judging Criteria

  • Delivering outcomes as demonstrated by an improved or maintained current NABERS Energy rating and achieved energy savings* (up to 14 points)
  • Implementing one or more energy saving initiatives (up to 10 points)
  • Demonstrating leadership by undertaking innovative, creative or progressive office energy efficiency activities (up to 17 points)
  • Engagement of staff/ customers/suppliers and/or stakeholders to educate and create market transformation (up to 17 points)
  • Participation in CitySwitch local program activities (up to 10 points)
  • The submitting entity MUST be a CitySwitch Signatory
Note, Signatories submitting for the Partnership of the Year Award may submit an accredited NABERS tenancy, whole building or base building rating.

It’s easy and free to join the program. Your good-will commitment to the program is an acknowledgement of the business sector’s role in
contributing to environmental sustainability and your intention to reduce your own energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.

As part of this, Signatories to the program commit to achieve an accredited NABERS Energy tenancy rating (between 4 and 6 stars) and
work with CitySwitch to improve their tenancy’s environmental performance.

Find out more about how obtaining a NABERS Energy rating ensures you can benchmark your performance, better manage your progress
over time and promote your star rating achievement.