Geoff Gourley selected as speaker & session chair at 2013 Government Sustainability Conference

Embedding sustainability in government organisations.

Melbourne – October 7 & 8, 2013

Mr. Gourley, Director – Sustainability Integration with NuGreen Solutions will present new solutions, practical strategies and case studies.

The thesis of his presentations is that Green Building Innovation and Re-lifing Buildings can assist the property sector, building owners and tenants take control of resource efficiency, costs and carbon emissions through the use of the latest, innovative technology, solutions & delivery models.

NuGreen was established in 2011 to address the new and emerging resource related issues facing Australian organisations and properties. This is the third time geoff will present and chair at the Government Sustainability Conference.

Green Building Innovation – the next generation
He will address the following issues:

  • Management of increasing resource and property maintenance costs;
  • Green Building Innovations – particular focus on technology, lighting & software; and
  • Innovative delivery models enabling use and financing of latest technology, plant & equipment.

The main themes of the presentation will include:

  • The impact of new technology (e.g. LED lighting, organic response etc) on resource consumption;
  • The measurement and reporting of resource consumption, energy saving/carbon emission reduction; and
  • Process for identification and delivery of real solutions, incl project specific case studies

Government Sustainability Conference 2013

Sustainable Councils Keynote Presentation 2009

Article:             Sustainable Councils Conference 2009 – presentation notes
Date:                  7 May 2009
Author:          Geoffrey Gourley
Additional:  Presentation

1.         Introduction

Thank you.

I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Owners of this land. I would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the KULIN Nation and extend that respect to other Aboriginals present.

Following on from Alan Pears, and as your last presenter it is my hope you leave here today with new found strategies, improved understanding, positive and motivated attitudes that lead contribute to the development of Sustainable Councils.  And I have some home work for you.

As one of Australia’s Sustainability Leaders I have been invited to speak to you to this afternoon about a number of topics directly related to local councils.

Rather than take off my watch and, in less than 20 Mins, try to cover exhaustive topics around local councils and sustainability, I have decided to give you all a reprieve… from my  environmentalist, futurist and sometime out there rants on the sustainable prosperity of  mothership earth and how globally, we are out of control.

However, I will be presenting a brief outline of 3 key elements which are essential if local councils are to not only meet but exceed the sustainability expectations, targets and principles of the 21st century.

The key elements are…

  • Sustainability Innovation
  • Inspired Leadership
  • Community Engagement

These elements are focussed around achieving real action.

2.         Lets take a minute to dive into Sustaina-what ?

A number of common principles are embedded in most definitions of sustainability:

These are

  • The conservation of biodiversity and ecological integrity
  • constant natural capital and sustainable income
  • ensuring intRAgenerational (within generations) and intERgenerational (across generations) equity
  • It is       recognising and responding to global circumstances at a local level
  • It is       dealing cautiously with risk, uncertainty and irreversibility
  • It is       ensuring appropriate valuation of environmental assets
  • It is       integration of environmental, social and economic goals in policies and
  • it is       the activities, social equity, community engagement and participation which deliver results.

-End Section-

3.        Sustainability Innovation

Innovation has, for a long time, been a part of the Australian culture, Well before Federation in 1901, Australians demonstrated how innovative they were.

Thousands of years ago, Indigenous Australians developed tools like fish traps, boomerangs and woomeras to assist with hunting. They lived in harmony with nature using the native flora and fauna as a source of food and medicine.

1901: Federation Wheat

William Farrer released the Federation wheat strain, resistant to fungal rust disease and drought.

1928: Speedo Swimwear (great if you are an Olympic swimmer)

This swimwear originated in Sydney when the MacRae Knitting Mills manufactured the company’s first swimsuit, the razorback, made from silk and joined in the middle of the back. Speedo introduced the world’s first nylon swimsuit in 1957.

1953: Solar Water Heater

The first prototype of a solar water heater was developed at CSIRO in Victoria.

1979: Race Cam

A lightweight, fixed camera used in car racing and other sports broadcasts was developed by Australian engineer, Geoff Healey.

1985: World’s Most Efficient Solar Cells

Dr Stuart Wenham and Professor Martin Green from the University of New South Wales produced the world’s first 20% efficient solar cell.

2000: Biodegradable Packaging

The Cooperative Research Centre for International Food Manufacture and Packaging Science developed new biodegradable packaging materials based on starch.

What is Innovation?

An innovation can be big or small. Brand-new or just a bit different, it doesn’t matter. An innovation can be clearly complex or seemingly simple. Innovations are often thought of in terms of technical achievement, but can also be a design.

The presence of a genius can help with innovation – it may speed up the end result by having a person who can see and make the future happen. However, innovation is more than the work of any one “Einstein.” Innovation involves the taking of the work of an individual (or team) and taking it to a broader audience.

The future of many organisations depends upon their ability to innovate. Competition is fierce. Knowledge spreads quickly. The ability of an organisation to not only keep up with its current practices, but to exceed its own – and its peers – expectations are critical to success.

What Is “Real” Innovation?

“Real” Innovation does not happen haphazardly or sporadically within organizations. “Real” Innovation is accomplished consistently and systematically, given the true need and a process for delivering solutions.

Organisations that innovate successfully do so using an efficient and repeatable methodology. Success is not dependent upon genius – it emerges from the disciplined application of a proven innovation methodology.


1.         Identify areas where you can apply sustainability innovation in your local council

Have a Sustainability Management Plan for now and the future

Offer an Eco Centre for community and business development

Understand current environmental performance and future goals

Share innovations with other council

-End Section-

4.         Inspired Leadership

Last year I successfully completed a Fellowship in Sustainability Leadership, a program which was delivered by the 2008 Environment Minister’s Young Environmentalist of the Year Award recipient Larissa Brown. 

Inspired leadership is evident, yet, it is not evident everywhere, a positive approach is to develop inspired sustainability leadership within local councils.

It is my belief leaders are not born but they are identified, developed and made.

A good leader knows when it is time to change shape because they are highly attentive to those around them. Coming from a position of strength, a great leader takes risks by freeing up the creative genius in their followers to build their capability and multiply the talents of the organisation. This leads to community and greatness.

It is true that inspired leaders share a number of qualities…

Some of which are…












Sense of humour


  • Model integrity, what does integrity look like to you?
  • Cooperate with the best in your people
  • Foster a collaborative working environment
  • Unleash team capability by empowerment through equality in responsibility and authority
  • Be conscious and present with your team
  • Encourage creativity with brainstorming
  • Work with your team to bring innovation and best practices to your organisation
  • Balance caring in the choices you make that effect your organisation
  • Embracing paradigm shifts through courage and continually advance your corporate vision
  • Remain consistent in demonstrating principles of leadership you wish others to emulate.
  • Balance understanding with expectations on deadlines when the circumstances dictate
  • Laugh at yourself and laugh freely and openly with your leadership team?

We need Inspiring, venturous leadership to connect caring communities, caring

people to begin influencing cultural, behavioral and attitudinal changes at local council level.

Leadership is needed across all sectors of business and in all types of communities, urban, regional, outback, beachside, farming, high country every corner of Australia needs leaders who are visionaries, leaders who care, leaders who can act, leaders that understand, leaders who make changes and leaders who want to shape our future.

I call them ‘Inspired Vision Leaders’

Your homework

1.         Identify and develop your inspired vision leaders.

-End Section-

5.         Community Engagement

Community engagement is certainly not new; in my research leading up to today it is clear many local councils have fantastic, all encompassing community engagement strategies, principles, goals, commitments and programs, it must be true it’s on their web sites.

I then considered how local councils were engaging with their local community with regard to sustainability, environment, planning and emissions reductions.

Nope, no alarm bells ringing here either pretty much the same lots of positive information being generated and communicated with the words sustainability, environment emissions reduction.

The findings have lead me to believe local councils already know how to effectively engage with the community, in fact in some councils that what they do best, but I then considered diving a bit deeper and asked myself the following questions.

  • At what level does local council engage with the community and what real results have been achieved?
  • Has the community’s youth been fully engaged or has the focus been around ratepayers and business?

Lets consider the first question with a positive approach ‘how better can local council engage with community’ around sustainability.

Communities need Eco Centres, that is a specific facility people can visit to gain information, talk with local experts, attend workshops, get an insight into the Whys and Hows of sustainable practices. This is more than just handing out low flow shower heads; it is about educating people about sustainable living practices and changing their behaviours and setting new paradigms around sustainable communities.

You have heard it before but the built environment contributes greatly to global carbon emissions, through effective community engagement local councils have the opportunity to change this. A community eco centre can be a hub for sustainability, a demonstration of green building and ESD principals, a community garden, the people behind it can be inspired leaders of the community effecting a major shift toward a sustainable culture.

Now the second point I wish to focus on is the engagement of the communities’ youth, Remember – you were young once.

Put yourself in Gen Ys’ shoes; this is uncomfortable I know, and there are plenty of unknowns. Lots of things are changing around them, and they are neither fully aware of the rationale – nor in control of – those things changing.

Even in times of more positive change, the first to buy in are those who either:

    1. Control / direct the change, or
    2. Are experiencing change that is positive to them personally

Cut them a break – you’re not always easy to live with either.

Remember? Our youth are trying to perform, succeed, and persevere – they deserve our respect.

Those who aren’t? Well, now’s a good time for a change – it has never been more important than during challenging social, environmental and economic times. We all need to pull our weight – the quicker we can get youth who care into positions of influence the faster we will become sustainable communities?

Your homework

1.         Engage with all members of the community and at all levels and achieve real results.

6.         Closing

In closing I would like to recap your homework requirements, remember your local community will be checking your performance.

1.         Identify areas where you can apply sustainability innovation in your local council

Develop an efficient and repeatable methodology and create a culture of innovation. Remember an organisations ability to exceed its own – and its peers – expectations are critical to success.

2.         Identify and develop your inspired vision leaders.

We need Inspiring, venturous leadership to connect caring communities, caring

people to begin influencing cultural, behavioral and attitudinal changes at local council level.

3.        Engage with all members of the community, at all levels and achieve real results.

Review your community engagement plan and ensure sustainability initiatives, principals and goals have been included and ensure your strategies are designed to deliver real results.  Build a community Eco Centre become a leading local council.

That concludes my presentation, I would like to thank you for your time and please enjoy the remainder of the conference.

-End Section-

-End Presentation-
*References were used in researching this presentation.

Sustaina-what ?

A number of common principles are embedded in most definitions of sustainability:

conservation of biodiversity and ecological integrity

constant natural capital and sustainable income

ensuring intragenerational (within generations) and intergenerational (across generations) equity

recognising and responding to global circumstances

dealing cautiously with risk, uncertainty and irreversibility

ensuring appropriate valuation of environmental assets

integration of environmental, social and economic goals in policies and activities

social equity and community participation.

Ecologically Sustainable Development

Article: Green Building, Leadership & Action

Title: ESD Ecologically Sustainable Development

Date: January 2009

Author: Geoffrey Gourley
Green Star Accredited Professional
Sustainability Leader


It is very encouraging to see the property sector within Australia understanding and addressing the serious climate change crisis; we have begun a paradigm shift in how design, construction and property development in this country is undertaken.

But why is change not happening fast enough? Leadership and greater action is required.

We are living well beyond the capacity of the planets resources, which at some stage, will run out. We have already seen a shift in how we use water, how we value eco system services, we now understand how we impact the environment through construction, development and building operations.

As professionals, our industry is leading from the front; we are incorporating renewable energy solutions in future developments and now have in excess of 76 Green Star certified projects completed.

Head contractors, like ‘Hansen Yuncken’, who have delivered landmark Green Star projects VS1 Adelaide Water, Council House 2, 60L, K2 Housing, Kangan Batman Tafe, are at the cutting edge of sustainable building practices.

There has been an increase in the number of projects undertaken where ‘Green Star Rating’ is to be achieved; indictors show this will continue to be an element toward a paradigm shift in the industry.

We have made a difference, but our reduction in contributing substantial GHG to the atmosphere is not happening fast enough.

The United Nations Environment Programme’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics estimates the built environment’s lifespan contribution to global CO2 emission is approximately forty per cent.

In Australia, the Green Building Council’s research indicates that commercial buildings alone contribute 8.8 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions.

There is huge potential for the building and property sector to play an important role in reducing emissions.

As an intelligent group of companies and individuals we can use the smartest people in the smartest ways, by adopting frontier technologies methods and efficiencies, working towards substantial emission reductions is possible.

We want change; we need to ensure a healthy and sustainable planet is here for future generations by adopting a paradigm shift, and with the right leadership we can do it better.

What is the sustainable pathway for future generations looking like?, as Australia continues to grow we see further development happening around us, simple developments are becoming Ecologically Sustainable Developments, a greater number of residential and commercial projects, in particular offices, are gaining Green Star ratings and the number of Green Star Accredited Professionals continue to become greater with every course delivered by Green Building Council of Australia. These are positive indications.

Our experiences over the last 5-6 years has provided the foundation for a rapid increase in projects aiming for, and achieving 4, 5 & 6 star Green Star ratings, not too mention the increase in ‘green collar’ jobs directly associated with design, consultancy and contracting companies.
Planning guidelines and formation, through community and industry consultation, of visions for future ‘green cities’ is well underway. A number of global sustainability initiatives are starting to be developed and adopted here in Australia.
Central Services Hubs are one element which is being considered as part of future developments; in nominated suburbs like Dandenong in Melbourne’s East and Docklands precinct on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD, ‘CSH’ are being developed to provide renewable energy options like Tri-Generation combined with black water and grey water treatment plants, these can be connected to all buildings within the development precinct.
The benefits of a more sustainable approach is significant, without doubt, it has to be the approach we take in all future developments. We need to consider and adopt visions and aim to achieve far greater, sustainable outcomes for the property sector and the planet.
By remaining committed to solid ESD principals, through government, industry and private collaboration we will see Australia become the world leader in green building, our attitude and behavior towards development will be one of ecological sustainability, creating eco-cities with strategic views to maximise utilisation of space.

We need more stringent sustainable planning directions that consider and value the land on which we build. Through holistic planning and development of integrated, sustainable towns, cities and urban centre’s we can assist Australia regain its local community identity. From less urban boundary growth, higher levels of mixed use and infill developments, I see inner urban and regional hubs connected in every way.

The health of our society and communities will be improved with the integration of ecologically planned outdoor public space and purposeful general amenity formed as part of master planned developments.

Creating a pathway to a sustainable, zero net emissions Australia can be achieved by building “green” economic vitality in the property sector. Through promoting sustainable developments and continuing to research and adopt innovative design practices, manage our building operations better and by building ‘green’ we will see moves towards a more sustainable Australia.

Strong leadership is needed, collaborative approaches are required, companies within the property industry need to respond better to climate change and respond now. I encourage you to play an active part and get involved through associations, groups and industry bodies. Can we ensure the sustainable future of our industry and the planet, Yes we can.


Geoffrey Gourley
0434 185 933

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