Green Living – reformatted, rejuvenated, relevant and sustainable. Master Builders Association of NSW re-introduced the nationally accredited Green Living program to the suite of learning options in 2011. It is not set up to be training in the traditional sense – rather it is a facilitated enquiry for those who want to explore the broader business options associated with sustainability and environmentally-sensitive work practice. Practice has changed for some of the ‘green’ industry vanguards and they have been a vocal demand for learning which reflects their commitment to sustainability – and which extends them while at the same time provides the consolidated core learning about everything you need to know about green building. Most participants want to feel more comfortable about ‘Residential Mandatory Disclosure’ scheduled for national roll-out in the imminent future and to know what they can say to customers to attract new business and more importantly secure an ongoing project relationship with them. The backdrop we must be aware of is simply a public perception that anything to do with sustainability is a conversation-killer perhaps due in no small part to the ‘carbon debate’ and ‘carbon tax’ and perhaps a perception that ‘climate change’ has been a construct of the Press following on a group of radical scientists intent on scaremongering. We have an increasingly savvy public who want answers to ‘green’ questions – answers that reflect where savings can be made in the medium and long-term and the facts about technology to better understand sustainable building materials, solar PV systems, insulation, thermal comfort, glazing and utility management. From this point on we already know that utility costs are going to rise significantly and customers will start looking for ways to reduce their bills as a natural outcome of this. Builders are customers too and much of the Green Living message is as useful to Builders in their own family situations as it is applied to customers. Some of the best business outcomes arise out of actually being able to relate to customers out of your own experience as a consumer. Green Living as a program has undergone a significant change and in its present form it is a facilitated enquiry based on two core themes: 1. Driving sustainable work practices and using ‘green’ materials to generate business profits – identifying and petitioning the emergent ‘green’ market, eliminating wasteful processes, niche marketing to attract the group of consumers who are environmentally conscious and want good advice about ‘greening’ their homes/houses. 2. Informing economy for customers based on ‘green’ principles – demystifying solar PV systems, insulation, constructing with innovative sustainable building materials, water issues. Delineating between ‘cost’ and ‘price’ in terms of purchasing and investment in house/home improvement. Above all other things it is a solutions-based program designed to de-mystify sustainability and provide ideas about building energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes. For these reasons it is flexible enough to accommodate input from participants and changes to the environment in which they are working and therefore able to offer practical solutions. Green Living builders talk about a ‘case management’ approach to building whereby the relationship between customer and practitioner is fostered to take account of ongoing building needs based on a negotiated project plan and to acknowledge that with 40% of all construction work carried out in Australia being renovation-based, people want to create sustainable homes and their budgets may indicate the building relationship needs to sustain over a period of years. The course which is presented to support these learning pillars provides information on materials, practices, innovations and green building science. What has made a big impact in both NSW and Victoria has been the calibre of the facilitators and their ability to presence accurate, current and
educated discussion to add to the skill-base of participants and at the same time to add to their knowledge base without confusing them. As one regional NSW participant commented “I learned a great deal doing this program, perhaps even more now that I have applied the material to my work….” The Green Living program is not training as such, it is a facilitated enquiry into sound green business practice and it provides learners with the foundations for developing a ‘green’ profile in their business operations. Green Living is not structured like training – the only requirement graduates must meet to have their names added to the Master Builders Green Living Builder webpage is a written assignment to demonstrate how they have applied their learning material in their businesses and this is required annually to maintain the web-site profile. We know that both customers and also commercial builder contractors review this web-site and more recently we also discovered that other agencies including government use it to review tender applications. Program outcomes: what you can expect to achieve as specific measureable outcomes. 1. 2. 3. 4.
Enhanced understanding of ‘green’ resources, technologies and practices Currency in terms of what is happening in Australia and internationally. Increased business profitability trading on ‘green’ themes Enhanced economies for customers through correct and up to date information provision