Climate accountability starts with sustainability in our workplaces

Over the weekend on World Environment Day, Aussies noted a shift in the mood around the climate agenda. As we settle into a newly elected gov’t with commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions more aggressively, it’s worth remembering that policies are going to take time. More importantly, they are not where our collective role in climate begins and ends. 

We are at a critical moment in time of the environmental crisis, where participation from all sectors will determine how we adapt and minimise the damage caused. All firms, gov’t and otherwise, have a responsibility in ensuring they start addressing this from our workplaces.

Driving greater workplace experiences better for the environment will ensure we start undoing the damage of climate agony, and begin securing Australia’s sustainable future. 

What is the impact of sustainable workplaces?

Almost a quarter of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and more than half of electricity consumption comes from Australia’s built environment. Our workplaces continue to drive energy demand due to energy-consuming appliances and rapid growth in building floor area.

Having more connected spaces will enable businesses to create more sustainable workplaces. Ultimately, sustainability boils down to efficiencies and workflow automation.

By identifying where people are in the building and how many, we can automatically trigger actions based on real-time data in lighting, mechanical services and climate control. A human centred design approach can deliver a better experience for tenants seeking a productive time in the office, like HVAC optimisation to reduce utilities and better space utilisation.

How can we get a head-start?

Australia has the opportunity to be a global leader in creating more sustainable workplaces and in turn, smart cities. We already have a head start when it comes to smart precincts, and smart cities are the next logical step. Even New York City has lagged in terms of fewer similar precincts compared to the way Australia has embraced the concept.

We’re small enough to be flexible, but large enough to see value in smart cities. Implementing smart tech into the workplace will not only lead to easier transitions as we return to work, but in the long run, save energy and costs by creating a more sustainable business model.

Creating a smart precinct is easier than a smart city because there are fewer stakeholders to manage, i.e. typically just one real estate firm. It is therefore easier than building a complete smart city, which would involve different levels of gov’ts and various other stakeholders.

There needs to be a long-term focus for all participants to leverage the technology that can solve and integrate everything, consolidating the myriad of separate networks into one.

As we enter a phase of climate accountability as a nation, it is time for each firm to ensure they have sustainable workplaces and prepare for the transition to Australia’s smarter cities. Our success in handling the challenges of tomorrow, as we shift to smart cities, will rely on it.

Jonathan McFarlane is the CEO of PlaceOS.