Transforming a city: Barangaroo South

12 Sep 2018

Cities are under pressure like never before. Climate change. Population growth. Access to transport. We need to address these challenges in how we design environmentally and socially resilient cities, and in how we invest in and finance developments.

Annie Tennant

General Manager, Sustainability & Culture, Barangaroo South

Opportunities to regenerate former industrial areas on city fringes present us with challenges to create new parts of the city that are sustainable, connected, places that people want to spend time in and places that are vibrant and open to all people. That is the nature of cities that have longevity. 

We have seen the global trend of cities that fade once their industrial base ceases to exist; but now are reignited through social enterprise, through investment in start ups and in enterprises that didn’t exist 50 years ago. 

Our work in sustainability at Barangaroo South has taken us down some unexpected paths – in the partnerships we’ve formed and in the possibilities that have become apparent to us. In fact, sustainability has become a movement at Lendlease and across the Barangaroo South precinct; in our design considerations, in our decision making, and in the actions of our people. 

This week, Barangaroo South was again recognised for its green credentials as co-winner of the Leadership in Sustainability Design and Performance (Commercial) category of the 2018 Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building awards. 

Lessons from this project tell us that regenerating urban precincts at scale provide governments and society with an enormous opportunity to make a sustainable and demonstrable difference. It’s where we can be truly bold.  

Increasingly, to meet the desire to create socially rich and diverse places, we are forming connections with potential social enterprise partners, customers, tenants, and educational institutes to enable them to be part of our vision. In turn, such partnerships can bring a beautiful richness to any sustainability effort and where the rewards are quite immediate, tangible and human.

One such partnership is our relationship with TAFE. We partnered with TAFE on the Barangaroo South Skills Exchange where have seen such a positive impact on our construction workers that we decided to do a Social Return on Investment (SROI). This process is an external surety that enables us to measure the financial impact on social ventures. What we found is that for every $1 invested, there was an $11.76 benefit back to society. How? When a worker attains an accreditation at our onsite Skills Exchange, that enables them to gain a higher position, thus earning more money. 

A little known fact about Barangaroo is the use of the coloured fins on the sides of the towers. These don’t just provide architecturally expressive elements to distinguish the ‘three sisters’ of Barangaroo South. Rather they are strategically positioned to keep the buildings cooler. We worked closely with all the subcontractors on the project to ensure that all of us were doing what we could to achieve carbon neutrality, move towards zero waste and be water positive. 

On a personal scale, a question I ask myself every day is ‘how can I lead the way in living a more sustainable life’. And how can we be creating opportunities for people that wouldn’t ordinarily get an opportunity to work on a huge development. That might mean opportunities for emerging artists, or for small businesses that have an idea to run a bike maintenance social enterprise for aboriginal youth to gain training on bicycle maintenance and running a small business. 

This has led to many changes in my household at home! And although I may want a new car, we don’t need one and we are waiting for the next generation of electric cars to come out. We also bought our new house with walkability and public transport in mind, to reduce our reliance on our car. We also have a suite of keep cups! And I am just like many of us, I sometimes forget to bring it. Thank goodness our tenancy has invested in so many reusable coffee cups that we can all now use to reduce our disposable coffee cup use from approximately 12,000 a day at Barangaroo South to zero in the future.