Colliers International: sustainability in real estate

Colliers International: sustainability in real estate

“Project management is part of the end-to-end property solutions that Colliers provides,” says Scott Anderson, Managing Director of Project Leaders at Colliers International Australia. The company’s mission to “maximize the potential of property to accelerate the success of our clients and our people” can be seen throughout its operations, with the advice that it offers and the sustainable routes it takes. With five key values that underline its functions, Colliers aims to be enterprising, collaborate, invest in relationships, be experts and do what’s right.

“Our operations start from the feasibility stage, and continue to bidding, concept design, business case, schematic design, design development, contractor engagement, and then commissioning in steady-state hand-over for the client – we offer end-to-end development services,” notes Anderson. Since joining the firm five years ago, Anderson has overseen the completion of AUS5bn’s worth of capital works. With the business averaging $1bn in capital works per annum, last year the Colliers International’s team completed around 120 projects – spanning asset classes in both the private and government sectors. Anderson works with a team of 75 Project Managers who focus on core assets, such as commercial office, retail, industrial, hospitality, hotels, health, education and other social infrastructure. “We provide all project management services, including advisory, development management, project management, program management, procurement and technology solutions for all projects,” he adds.

With offices spanning across all the nation’s mainland territories, the team is predominantly based on the Eastern Seaboard but also covers major cities and regional areas in Australia. Providing independence and technological advancements are core values in its operations, and Anderson explains how the firm strives to deliver on its promises. “We focus on operating as an Independent Project Manager, which means providing our clients with that freedom. There is also a strong focus on offering technology solutions, which our technology solutions team are experts at developing.” However, despite the importance of digital transformation, sustainability is the latest hot topic that Colliers International is prioritising.

Sustainability is a huge priority for Colliers International, with Anderson highlighting how the global issue is addressed by the business. “We’ve noticed sustainability as a fundamental shift over the last few years. At a macro level, countries have to meet their targets if we want to see real change as the timeline shortens. So it’s inevitable, and it’s something we think about every day. If you look across the Colliers platform, we have a number of specialist areas that focus on sustainability – whether it be solar, wind or a NABERS Green Star rating,” he says. The business works hard to ensure sustainability is considered during all stages of its operations: “Sustainability is fundamental to any business – it’s not one asset class, it’s every asset class, no matter what project you’re looking at. At the very start of the design briefs, we always ask ‘What are all the sustainable admissions that we can introduce into this project?’”

The firm has completed a number of projects that meet the NABERS rating, including the Northern Beaches hospital in Sydney. Completed in October 2018, the site features 12 operating theatres, a 50-space emergency department and 488 beds. “It was thoughtfully designed to optimise patient safety and overall experience, and to provide meaningful management and operational efficiencies that benefit everyone,” the hospital claims. The $640mn building is the first hospital in the territory to reach four stars by Green Star for its design and construction. “Sustainability is always at the forefront of our project managers’ thinking at the start of any project – the hospital included.”

Not only are more sustainable practices reducing climate impact, but Colliers is reaping other benefits from its environment-focused operations. By considering the longevity of its work, the firm is seeing long-term savings. “Projects are not just about initially saving costs in the design and construction process – we must also consider the long-term operations of the facility. We avoid the short-term thinking of finishing a project – the long-term life cycling and maintenance costs must be taken into account. This covers issues such as water and power,” remarks Anderson.  The firm is responsible for a lot of major social infrastructure projects in which its customers grow into long-term institutional clients, becoming more than just developers. The projects ensure these businesses adopt such ways of thinking and introduce sustainability to their strategies.

As the sustainable initiatives and environmentally friendly technology markets continue to grow, Colliers International expands its offerings concurrently. “Across the Colliers brand, there are a number of solar initiatives used by some of our major clients, particularly in the retail industry where there are opportunities to take advantage of the technology,” states Anderson. “But, like I said, every one of our projects always features a sustainability element. One thing we push is that project managers always have that in the forefront of their thinking at the start of the project. With regards to our customers, they’re already there, thinking with that sustainability lens. This is not a new conversation – they understand what their shareholders expect, and they expect their clients to be at the forefront of their initiative, and they expect us, as their project manager and expert, to provide for them.”

Scott Anderson