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Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards offer more than recognition

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The Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards are open for applications, and taking part is about more than just recognition, former CitySwitch Award winner Paul Davy says.

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Paul Davy came to Australia from the UK at an advantageous time.

Working in building services engineering, he had spent time in the fields of sustainability and energy efficiency, which, in the UK, is part and parcel with the trade.

When he arrived in Adelaide a decade ago, the Green Building Council of Australia had not long been operating, and the collective eyes of our building industry were starting to turn towards sustainability in the built environment, but, unlike the UK, it became a specialised field, rather than an aspect of industry.

Finding his feet in Australia, Davy helped set up the Adelaide presence of a specialist sustainability firm, but saw that the fast-moving industry required a more agile style of consultancy, and so, with co-director Deborah Davidson, he created dsquared.

“We didn’t want to operate as part of a corporate organisation, we wanted to be more agile and dynamic,” Davy says.

“If we thought of an idea that we wanted to deliver tomorrow, we wanted to be able to decide on it today.

“There are so many companies, innovators, engineers, entrepreneurs operating… that you can’t just take a conventional idea development process that might take one or two years.

“You might create an idea this week, try and develop it next week, in three weeks’ time it’s already old, or already irrelevant… That’s really why we needed to set up an environment where we could work in that way.”

Since he created his own firm, the culture around sustainability and energy efficiency has only strengthened, Davy says, particularly through initiatives like “the City of Adelaide and State Government signing a joint partnership to create Adelaide as the world’s first carbon-neutral city, and setting policies and targets for that”.

“We’ve been quite happily in that initiative, and that’s created projects, that’s created demands from private developers trying to contribute to that,” he says.

Dsquared currently consists of four people, but rather than measuring its success by the size of the business, Davy says it’s the spread of its ideas that prove it is having the right impact.

It’s for this reason he was heartened by his win in last year’s CitySwitch awards, where dsquared and WAX Design were jointly recognised for the energy efficiency they had introduced to their shared workspace.

“The award was for the CitySwitch Partnership Award, so it was for partnership of the year, and that recognising a city signatory that works in partnership with others to achieve a sustainability goal,” Davys says.

“We worked in partnership with WAX Design, another major tenant in the building, and the landlord, in order to install a solar power generation system and do a few other bits of energy-efficiency work.

“Where the innovation came in is that this is a strata tenancy building; typically, landlords won’t install infrastructure that is going to benefit the tenant if it doesn’t benefit them.

“We set up a partnership structure where we could all come together, we did some cost-sharing… [and] as tenants we could pool resources and pool costs, and as a result of that partnership, we’ve more than halved our greenhouse gas emissions – so we’ve made a 60 per cent reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’re now eligible for a six-star NABERS energy rating, which is the highest energy rating you could possibly get, and that was reflected in the award.”

As well as the recognition, the award was a great way to network among other like-minded business, and through those new relationships, help spread their ideas.

“It was obviously very satisfying to have your peers say that you’ve done a really good thing, but one of the biggest things for us is it meant we could get our approach and our message out to a bigger audience,” Davy says.

“We’ve been strong supporters of the CitySwitch program, and now the new Carbon Neutral Adelaide program, since their inception, and we’ll continue to do so. I think it’s really, really important.”

Applications for the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards are currently open, but close this Monday, October 23.

If you know of a person or business leading the city toward its carbon-neutral goals in the categories of Partner of the Year, Leadership and Influence, Low Carbon Economy, Applied Innovation or The New Normal, you can nominate them at the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards website.

Solstice Media has partnered with the South Australian Government to provide information about the transition to a low-carbon economy. Read more stories like this here.

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