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Aussie know-how fuels global expansion in US and London, as all eyes on Johnson’s green leanings

Energy data analytics provider Envizi is capitalising on the growing interest in Australian know-how in sustainability and energy efficiency in buildings with expansions in the US and the UK.

The company now has eight staff in the US and four in the UK. In the UK it will also sponsor a conference on the theme of “Towards Net Zero Buildings and Infrastructure” in September.

In Australia, the team now at 50 strong has appointed well known industry sustainability stalwarts Bruce Precious, previously with GPT, and Paul Wall, previously with Dexus, to its advisory board.

Australia is steadily gaining a reputation for knowing more about building efficiency than most, especially with its GRESB success and commitments to net zero, a message that came through loud and clear with the recently announced trial of the NABERS energy rating system in the UK.

This interest was confirmed in early June when The Fifth Estate met with Peter Mallaburn, director of policy and governance with The Energy Institute, University College London, who was in Australia to further understand the industry that he said was “15 years ahead of the UK” on energy efficiency in buildings.

He’s working on a comprehensive paper that will examine the widescale impact of NABERS on the market, such as the way the rating tool has fostered energy efficiency and analytics sectors, such as Envizi and Switch Automation.

Mallaburn confirmed industry and UK government alike were interested in understanding the development of the industry in Australia (at least prior to the sudden appointment of Boris Johnson as PM).

Meanwhile the world is watching as Johnson takes the reins of government in the UK. Will he progress the sustainability agenda or reverse it? The UK recently set a net zero target and declared a climate emergency.

According to some readings, past performance from Johnson is a mixed bag.

As lord mayor of London he rode a bicycle and did much for the fresh greenie windswept look.

But as an MP, he voted against policies to include a carbon capture and storage strategy, against emissions-based vehicle taxes and supported a Climate Change Levy on electricity generated from renewable sources, according to Edie.

In 2016 he held back a report about air pollution impacting deprived schools, the report continued “but he also planned the first Ultra Low Emission Zone and slapped an additional £10 on diesel vehicles to drive into the centre of London. He also committed to electrifying the bus fleet and improving the capital’s rapid charging network, spending £330m on hybrid buses, zero-emission taxies and trees.”

He’s also supported stronger regulations on fracking, opposed the US’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement but didn’t mention the UK government’s recent declaration of a “climate emergency” when he might have.

And so on.

But in more recent news, this week, it’s emerged that Johnson has appointed two politicians to important government positions who have been strong campaigners for bold action on the environment and climate change.

According to a report from Business Green, Zac Goldsmith, a former editor of the Ecologist magazine, was named as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Development the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

And Simon Clarke, key to securing the UK’s net zero emissions goal, was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.

Clarke said on Twitter the role “encompasses key aspects of green finance” and that he was “keen to help delivering the road to net zero”.

Coming up fast is the Brexit issue and we’ve heard on the grapevine that many less than scrupulous developers are keen to see the UK remove itself from the tough environmental and quality standards imposed by the European Union.

One developer we heard about in London was looking forward to doing away with pesky requirements for minimum size apartments and other inconvenient sustainability mandates.

It remains to be seen what side the volatile and confusing Johnson falls to, with or without Brexit and the iron hand of Brussels.

For now, “The new teams represent a major shake up of the ministerial line-ups at key green departments, as the government faces a raft of crucial policy decisions alongside intense work to prepare for Brexit,” Business Green said.

While government sorts out its inclinations, Envizi reckons business is getting on with sustainability and energy efficiency, much as it is in Australia.

Certainly the company is ignoring the possibility of reversal of sentiment. A company statement said its new advisory board appointments Bruce Precious and Paul Wall are considered key to helping it evolve its sustainability and “global go-to-market” strategy, “and bring the lessons learned in the Australian commercial real estate market to the rest of the world”.

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