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Celebrating our successes

In our non-stop world, it’s easy to place our immediate focus on the next task and forget to reflect on what we’ve just achieved. But by ignoring our wins we miss a vital opportunity to encourage greater success.

Celebrating success reminds us of why we set our goals in the first place.  Celebrating success also reinforces that change does matter – that it is happening here and now – and that change need not be a scary thing.

Each year, World Green Building Week gets bigger and better – and each year, it reinforces how far we’ve come in just a few short years. The Green Building Council of Australia was one of the founding eight members of the World Green Building Council in 2002. This year, we joined forces with 97 other GBCs and 25,000 companies to celebrate this annual event. Among the dozens of workshops and site tours presented by our members, the GBCA held a staff ‘green trivia’ night, hosted site tours and seminars, and launched a new report, The future of Australian Education - Sustainable places for learning.

I was thrilled to judge Australand’s Interactive Art Wall Competition. In previous years, Australand had embraced World Green Building Week, with the ‘Turn Waste Into Art’ and ‘Urban Sustainability Photo Competition’ uncovering an abundance of creative, original and resourceful people. This year, several teams in each office planned, designed and created a piece of art to inspire us all to make a difference to the environment.

The other judges and I couldn’t decide between two exceptional projects.  ‘Too much great stuff’ is a short video that encourages us to apply our creativity to reusing, reducing and reinventing the way we do things.

‘The Box – Why Care?’, inspired by the work of Bernie Krause, captures wild soundscapes – from the rustle of wind in the trees to the subtle sounds of insect larvae – that may one day disappear.

  Joint-winners of the Australand NSW competition, James McIntyre and Sithu Thein

Acknowledging our successes can act as a catalyst for others – producing a reaction of “we can achieve this too” or even “if they can do that, we can do even better”. Many of our member organisations, Australand among them, are leading the way towards the ‘new normal’ – a world in which we make choices based on the impact they will have on our environment. Other organisations are the first to showcase others’ sustainable success stories, such as The Fifth Estate. This small but growing publication deserves applause for its new Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness.

Celebrating success unifies people around a positive outcome. Thousands of people in our industry have a common goal – a truly sustainable built environment – and celebrating the successes of others that share our goal reminds us all of what we are working towards. As management guru Tom Peters says: “celebrate what you want to see more of.” DEXUS and GPT Group should be celebrating for their recent wins at the Green Globe Awards, NSW’s leading environment awards for environmental excellence, leadership and innovation. GPT Group was presented with the Premier's Award for Sustainability as well as the award for Business Sustainability, while DEXUS Property Group won the Built Environment Sustainability Award. Stockland was also recently named the world’s most sustainable real estate company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Often, we wait to celebrate until we have something tangible to show off – until we've achieved our goal. But sometimes we need to acknowledge the small achievements along the way. Someone lamented to me recently that “change is not happening fast enough”. But creating a sustainable future requires a sustainable approach. We need to help companies embed sustainability into their corporate DNA. Australand is doing it. Stockland, GPT and DEXUS are doing it as well, as are many other leading companies. It's easy to forget how far we've come since setting off on this journey. But if we don’t acknowledge our successes, we’ll become footsore and more likely to fail.

Sometime our goals are big – like transforming our existing buildings. 

Just a few days ago, I stood under the sails of the Sydney Opera House to launch our newest rating tool, Green Star – Performance.

For many in our industry, achieving the first Green Star ratings for design and construction was akin to running the four minute mile – impossible until it became possible.

But now, after a decade in which we’ve influenced the sustainability of more than 1,000 building projects around Australia, we must now tackle the far greater challenge of improving the efficiency of our existing building stock.

The Green Star – Performance rating tool is the result of collaborative efforts of Australia’s property and facilities management industries, which have worked together to create a consistent, holistic method of measuring existing buildings.  While much of the work still lies ahead of us, the collective achievement of bringing Green Star – Performance to market is something we should all celebrate.

How can the Green Building Council of Australia encourage change by showcasing our industry’s successes? Share some of the achievements you should be celebrating on Twitter using the hashtag #talkaroundthegreenhouse