On why the V shaped recovery in sustainability is coming fast

News from the Front Desk, Issue 498: John Hewson former Liberal leader is starting to change his tune on climate change: he’s becoming more optimistic. Christiana Figueres, the global climate powerhouse of negotiation, agrees. And so does business. South Pole, a global company that offsets carbon for corporates and consults on sustainability and climate to […]

On what we’re doing, and what’s next

News from the Front Desk, Issue 496:When the NSW planning minister periodically taps an agency chief on the shoulder to share what the new priorities for their work should be, it’s something to be responded to, with alacrity. For Greater Sydney Commission boss Geoffrey Roberts, that tap came recently in the wake of the Coronavirus […]

On why personal responsibility is just part of the picture

News from the Front Desk, Issue 493: Sometimes urging people to take personal responsibility is a fraudulent strategy for positive change. A con that says it’s all our own fault if the planet blows up. We need to take shorter showers, recycle, don’t buy plastics, travel less. If we’re fat or sick or work in […]

On what we learnt at Flick the Switch – that we want more net zero

News from the front desk, issue 492: Here at The Fifth Estate our heads are spinning after what was an action packed five hours at our Flick the Switch event yesterday about the transition to all electric, net zero buildings and cities. The subject matter certainly struck a chord – we had record numbers in […]

On why the net zero all-electric challenge deserves the biggest brains trust we can manage (on 5 August at Flick the Switch)

News from the front desk, issue 491: There’s pretty much consensus, in The Fifth Estate’s circles at least, that going all-electric is the most straight-forward way for most buildings to hit net zero targets. It makes sense when Australia’s energy network is tracking towards the “biggest and fastest” clean energy transition in the world according […]

On movements and shake ups

Could it be the instability caused by this strange time that’s seen so many changes of the guard at the top end of businesses and organisations and some surprising road-to-Damascus type conversions from the most unlikely places?

On why we need to protect our sustainability stars

News from the front desk, No 486: This week the Green Building Council of Australia announced a bunch of green building champions that it honoured in its first such awards. Among them are many faces well known to The Fifth Estate. People who have kept up the good fight through thick and thin. Here’s the […]

On why we should be wary of new safety-enhancing monitoring technology

News from the front desk No 485: Purpose-built employee monitoring software has also been “flying off the shelves” since the pandemic started. What’s going on? It’s totally predictable but concerns are mounting fast that the coronavirus pandemic is ushering in a new wave of dubious monitoring and surveillance technology that will be tough to eradicate […]

On myopic split systems thinking – and environmentalism’s struggle with racism

News from the front desk, Issue 484: According to the social scientists it can take a good 10 years for society to forget a collective trauma and move on.  Even after the actual danger has passed, the fear lives on. We’re wondering if it’s this kind of fear that is making the PM Scott Morrison […]

On how the all-electric, net zero horse has already bolted

News from the front desk, Issue 483: Last week, the Morrison government unleashed its technology roadmap on Australia, starring natural gas in a leading role. It didn’t take long for people to start protesting the pro-gas sentiment pushed by the government and its friends in the gas industry. Atlassian chief executive and renewables advocate Mike […]

On gas and hot air

News from the front desk: Five or six years ago the notion of cheap and plentiful gas available to our homes and offices might have been something to fear for its impact on climate and our greenhouse gas emissions.

On why this might be a great time for pause and thought around our next move

News from the front desk Issue 480: Politicians around the country are gearing up to pull the lever on big infrastructure projects to boost the economy. NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance labelled a second wave of mega transport projects a “silver bullet” to kickstart the NSW economy. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the state would need […]

On the “Cover of Covid” in WA and the choice of legacy for our PM in Canberra  

News from the front desk Issue No 479: Something interesting came up in our second TFE Live event on Wednesday with Davina Rooney, chief executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, and Danni Hunter, CEO of the Urban Development Institute of Australia Victoria. A new National Construction Code will come into effect on Friday, […]

On so many ways to not waste a good crisis

News from the front desk No 478: There’s no shortage of optimistic commentary coming out urging us not to waste this crisis. Suddenly, we have hours to kill in self isolation to reconsider existing economic, environmental and social policy, and ponder over better options. With any luck, we’ll seize the opportunity to embark on economic […]

On the facility managers fighting COVID-19 behind the scenes

News from the front desk Issue 476: Just a few months ago, the notion that large swathes of Australia’s building stock would be empty and in “hibernation” was unimaginable. As was the idea that COVID-19 might be enough to keep some people away from crowded buildings indefinitely.

On our new channels and plans to beat this thing

News from the front desk Issue 475: In all of history, the great hardships and challenges have yielded in their wake the most creative periods for humanity.

On changing our DNA

Looks like this virus has already rearranged our DNA. Acts of extreme kindness are appearing where before there was only cold-hearted neoliberalism.

On construction, energy, climate damage and the new radical transparency

News from the front desk: Issue 473: Aren’t we getting intimate with each other? Zoom meetings and briefings from the home studio, kitchen table or bedroom. Hair a tad askew, just in from a walk or a run in the rain. Apparently, it’s called radical transparency. That’ll bring us all down to earth. In case […]

On a walk in the park, and a peek into turmoil

News from the front desk Issue 471: If you’re feeling discombobulated by the crazy mental contagion of our world right now try this for some unsolicited advice: a good night’s sleep, an early morning walk in the sun, a bit of nature.

On why not everyone is worried about toilet paper

With three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse making their rounds in recent months, in Australia at least, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all a bit bleak. And uncomfortable. And a tad scary.

On architects, engineers and the new denialists who don’t want rehab

News from the front desk Issue 469: From local councils, state governments and the architecture and engineering professions, there is a new sense of urgent momentum for change. This week The Fifth Estate called into Melbourne and had meetings with a few well placed people. One lot said to speak to the City of Melbourne; […]