Growing seeds at Green Cities
(originally published 30 July 2016)
In case you missed the conversation about OneSteel’s presentation at the Green Cities conference in March 2016, we catch up with OneSteel’s Group Marketing Manager Sally Eagleton, to take us back down memory lane…
The theme for Green Cities 2016 was ‘disruption’ and OneSteel shared its own message of disruption to the industry, with a presentation calling for a ‘Lighter, Less and Lean’ approach to construction.
What prompted OneSteel’s involvement at Green Cities this year?
OneSteel is a key partner to the Australian construction industry and is well positioned to provide sustainable steel solutions that contribute to the development and growth of Australia. Green Cities was a great opportunity to collaborate across the industry and all speak with one voice. We believe that anything is possible when you turn the right minds to it because as much as we deal in steel, we also deal in futures – yours, ours and Australia’s.
Why was this the right time to address the industry?
There has been quite a lot of development in sustainability requirements in the built environment. For years businesses have addressed sustainability issues on an ‘as needs’ basis, but now they are a core part of operating, and central to the business model of a supplier to the construction industry.
This year the theme at Green Cities was ‘disruption’. How does this apply to OneSteel’s work in construction and in building ‘green’?
Regardless of the building material you use – whether a structural steel frame, concrete or timber – you have to use steel in the structure. Otherwise it won’t stand the test of time and it won’t stand up.
One of the ways OneSteel is ‘disrupting’ the Australian construction industry from a steel perspective, is the imminent launch of our Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for products we supply to this industry. Another part of positioning OneSteel this way is to showcase some of the technologies we’ve developed with the University of New South Wales.
We’ve recycled tyres in the steelmaking process through Polymer Injection Technology. The very nature of that technology allows people who use our steel to claim a Green Star point.
OneSteel's presentation at Green Cities was titled 'Lighter, Less and Lean". Tell us about what this means.
‘Lighter, Less and Lean’ means steel is sustainable and we’re using new technologies. Also that it’s possible to produce different grades of steel in different steel products that have less of an impact on the built environment.
So that was really the ‘disruption’. Going lighter, using less steel, being smarter. It’s not about doing ‘less bad’; it’s about doing better.
There does seem to be an increase in environmental awareness in the construction industry. What's prompting that awareness now?
There’s a little bit around governance and sustainability reporting being part of a large and responsible company. And then there’s organisations and the people who are working within them – the drive to be sustainable and a good corporate citizen.
So that has become part of a business model, not just something that sits off to the side to tick a box. It’s really playing a part in organisational strategy.
So people are more receptive to it now?
Absolutely. I would say over the last few years it is really gaining traction. OneSteel will soon be launching Environmental Product Declarations for our supply chain and products and we’re early in the curve to do that as a supplier in the industry.
How do you reach more reluctant people though? After all, construction can come across as purely a practical consideration even though humans are behind it.
That’s an interesting one in terms of the built environment. The focus is to build liveable cities. So when you think about Sydney and how it sits today, it’s not a very liveable city.
Public transport’s not great, there’s a broad geographic spread in where people live, they’re spending an hour-and-a-half in the car to get to work every day. So there’s a big focus on making cities and communities more liveable.
And also, as part of that, you can humanise the community in terms of what you might see in a building. But in terms of where steel fits, it’s either under the ground or behind walls, and it’s quite challenging in terms of humanising that piece if you’re living or working in a building.
How will Environmental Product Declarations help?
EPDs provide transparency of a supplier’s environmental credentials. The generation of an EPD involves a rigorous and thorough process, and the results are independently verified. Customers know what they’re getting with our supply chain and products. They can evaluate suppliers on the basis of their sustainability credentials.
So there’s a certain amount of corporate social responsibility and doing better in this space, and having an EPD – a traceable proof point that we are sustainable corporate citizens.
How else are you partnering with the construction industry?
It’s really about industry collaboration. At Green Cities, you did hear a lot of speakers talk about their particular role in the value chain – if they were a timber supplier, it was all about timber; if they were a concrete supplier, it was all about concrete. But I think what the industry is missing is that industry collaboration; early engagement on projects and engagement across the value chain, because there are a lot of stakeholders involved to produce a building or infrastructure project.
Sally Eagleton has worked for OneSteel for 10 years and as the Group Marketing Manager for the last two. Sally’s in-depth industry knowledge, customer insights and market expertise are invaluable to the business as it successfully navigates the challenging waters of Australia’s steel industry.