All posts by bradkerin

Lessons from the Sahara Forest Project

Four years ago, architect Michael Pawlyn recorded a TED Talk at the TEDSalon London 2010, where he spoke about the benefits of biomimicry and how it can be used to change the way society approaches sustainable design. Watch his presentation above, and you will be excited about the wonder and simplicity of natural systems that are guiding the way that our cutting edge developers and dreamers are creating a sustainable future.

The second half of his talk Using Nature’s Genius in Architecture, focused on the potential of the Sahara Forest Project (SF Project). Put simply, the project is ‘…a combination of environmental technologies to enable restorative growth, defined as revegetation and creation of green jobs through profitable production of food, freshwater, biofuels and electricity…’. Essentially this project aims to revegetate large areas of arid desert, whilst simultaneously using a closed loop system to create food, energy, freshwater and natural building products on the same land.

Four years on, the Sahara Forest Project has strong backing by many nations, and Qatar has hosted the pilot facility to asses and nurture the viability of the project since its completion in December 2012. In June of this year, Jordan signed an agreement to build a Test & Demonstration Centre, which will act as a hub for innovation and capability to showcase the economic viability of the project.

Qatar Plant

Jordan Facility

So what can we learn from this amazing experiment and its successes to date? Here are five lessons that will have a profound impact on the future of this project, and other projects that are in the pipeline around the world. Continue reading Lessons from the Sahara Forest Project

Churches, superfunds & universities search for greener investment pastures

Investments

Australian superannuation giant Hesta has announced it will be restricting its investments in thermal coal operations. “This ‘unburnable carbon’ is likely to become an increasing risk in the medium to long term, especially for companies heavily invested in thermal coal, or those seeking to develop new long-term assets” said Chief Executive Officer Anne-Marie Corbuoy in a statement on Friday.

Hesta, a fund representing 785,000 members and 155,000 employers in the health and community services sectors, is one of few institutional investors accounting significantly for climate change impacts on their long term investments. Not only has the $29 billion superfund decided to limit its direct association with thermal coal projects, it has announced that it will not invest in any newly listed companies that derive more than 15% of revenue from exploration or production of thermal coal.

With a focus on environmental risk, Hesta has now joined a number of national and international organisations that have recently been looking at a long term boycott of fossil fuel investments, in order to mitigate their own carbon footprint. Surprisingly, it is religious organisations that are taking a lead in this strategy. Continue reading Churches, superfunds & universities search for greener investment pastures

Why is Atlassian the best place to work in Australia?

The best place to work in Australia

BRW’s Best Places To Work Awards have named Aussie tech startup Atlassian as the best place to work in Australia. Along with numerous employment package perks they have all the modern perks that the Google Offices and Facebook Offices have – games rooms, drinks fridges, food and a pool table. It is not these perks, however that are the main focus of their success; it’s the way that they engage their employees and value their input, above and beyond their responsibilities as employees. Continue reading Why is Atlassian the best place to work in Australia?

Michael Traill to step down from SVA Australia

Michael Traill

Michael Traill, the Founder of Social Ventures Australia has announced he is stepping down from his role as CEO, at the annual SVA Oration, at the NSW House of Parliament last night. His exit will be sadly be effective October this year and will be succeeded by Rob Koczkar, the current Managing Director of Pacific Equity Partners. Continue reading Michael Traill to step down from SVA Australia

Australia’s Green Labour Force: The Next Generation

EnviroWeek

Just over a week ago, Australia celebrated EnviroWeek 2014, a fantastic community initiative that works with Australian schools to promote sustainable practices. The project was run by Cool Australia, and its CEO Jason Kimberley has a built a real future-focused movement for sustainability education in schools. Since starting the organisation in 2008, Jason and his team have engaged more than 15,000 teachers and 500,000 students across Australia, with  172,732 students from 2137 schools this year taking part in 314,495 local and community projects to promote sustainability and help the environment. Continue reading Australia’s Green Labour Force: The Next Generation

Climate change satire to get you through the end of the week

CarbonCars1

Since the repeal of the Carbon Tax and the debate around the Renewables Energy Target the future of Australia’s energy seems more and more uncertain every day. With this in mind, and given that it is friday, Sustaining People would like to lighten your load with some good old fashioned satire from our friends at The Shovel.

The Shovel has an alternative to our future energy problems and it’s hilarious. Read the article after the jump and enjoy the rest of your friday!

Renewable Target: 20% Of Australia’s Electricity To Be Powered By Burning Scientific Reports – The Shovel.

How your cornflakes are helping Aussie kids

Kellog’s breakfast cereals are well known, and this brand recognition is being leveraged to invest in a health initiative that has already seen food distributed to over seven million people in Australia since the The Breakfasts for Better Days  program was launched in February 2013.

In brief, Kellog’s is donating one breakfast to a child or family in need, for every box of cereal sold. They state that in Australia, one in seven kids don’t eat breakfast, and that this has an effect on important developmental learning and social interactions.  The program has already donated seven million meals, and aims to feed 12 million Aussie children and families by 2016. With only five million more meals to serve in the next two years, it looks like they will meet (or even exceed) their target. This Australian strategy contributes to the global initiative, which is hoping to feed half a billion people by 2016. Continue reading How your cornflakes are helping Aussie kids

CSR ≠ Sustainability

n-BUSINESS-large570

Many people use CSR and Sustainability interchangeably, when there are some clear and definitive differences that show the two terms are not synonymous. Simply put, Corporate Social Responsibility is the task of balancing current stakeholder interests, by implementing initiatives that improve wide reaching and operational impacts on communities. Conversely, Sustainability is a course of action that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – accurately described by the World Commission on Environment & Development’s Our Common Future, published in 1987.

An article in the Canadian Huffington Post Online, discusses this definition debarkle, and explains the relationship between these two terms really well. It’s important to know the difference, and to understand how businesses can have a CSR strategy as well as a separate Sustainability strategy. The article closes by saying you can be responsible or sustainable, but not both. Sustaining People agrees with a lot of what is extolled in this piece, but maybe there is a way to marry the two together; sustainability strategy can be used to inform CSR initiatives about the potential future risks, so that current action doesn’t hamper ongoing sustainability efforts.

If you would like to know more and better inform your own CSR or Sustainability experience, you can read the full article here.

25 Inventions for a Sustainable Tomorrow

Science & Invention, November 1928. Volume 16 Number 7
Australian Science – is it still the way of the future?

Inventions have made our lives easier and more luxurious over the years, from the car phone to the watch-phone, but growing numbers of inventors are focusing on the future and how to make it better.

Today’s Courier Mail Online newspaper takes a look at 25 home-grown inventions and technological innovations that are helping not just Australians but the world. It looks at a number of products that are changing the way we manage sustainable development, but also those that will improve the way that humans interact in our increasingly overpopulated cities. Continue reading 25 Inventions for a Sustainable Tomorrow

Ernst & Young to Acquire Netbalance

Net-Balance-Logo

Ernst & Young has announced its plans to acquire Netbalance, one of Australia’s most prominent Sustainability & CSR consulting houses, for an undisclosed amount. In an email release yesterday afternoon, Netbalance broke the news to its members stating that the proceedings would have little to no impact on the provision of its services. Netbalance has a prestigious client base, having worked for the likes of World Vision, Woolworths, Telstra, Bunnings, Insurance Australia Group, NAB, Commonwealth Bank, AGL, EnergyAustralia and Stockland. Continue reading Ernst & Young to Acquire Netbalance