Technological improvements to offices and infrastructure

Green Star NAB 700 Bourke Street Docklands. Photo courtesy NDY

To achieve the improvements that we have seen to date across the broad gamut of the professional services sector, many firms have undertaken extraordinary renovations and retrofits, or in some cases have moved into a new office and designed from the bottom up, creating some of the greenest buildings in the world.

The GPT Group: Sydney retrofit


When the GPT Group’s management decided it was time to upgrade their offices in the 33-year-old MLC tower in Sydney, little did they realise they were embarking on a company-wide transformation.

But 18 months later that is exactly what was delivered, creating a much healthier, energy-efficient workplace with state-of-the-art communications technology and a more mobile, flexible workforce. All at no additional cost to the business.

“Once we started the conversation about upgrading the physical space we very quickly realised the enormous opportunity this gave us to reinvigorate the business. This was more than a physical upgrade – it was a tool to transform and reposition the business and also to showcase what can be achieved even in an older building,” said Project Director, Rob Hitchcock.

The project team started by asking how the business wanted to work internally and connect externally. This resulted in a clear aspirational brief with six key aspirations for the work space ranging from a diversity of work and casual settings, integration and movement of business units, and an environment that reflects what GPT does, promotes wellbeing, and that ‘future proofs’ the business for growth.

The result

  • 90 per cent of employees feel more equipped to be productive in the new space according to a recent survey,
  • 70 per cent cut in lighting energy use,
  • 50 per cent less power used,
  • 50 per cent more fresh air than standards require, and
  • 80 per cent materials recycled or re-used.

New offices are part of a new direction and a “community of interests”

In reflecting on the project, Chief Executive and Managing Director, Michael Cameron considers the project a mission accomplished.

The work was done to exacting environmental standards at no extra cost to its shareholders. At the same time it shrank the amount of space it occupied from five floors to three. And it left staff numbers unchanged.

“The big surprise has been that you can do something like this in a 33-year-old building,” Cameron says.

“What it will potentially do is see a lot of tenants stay and refurbish their premises rather than move to a new site.

“The big attraction is if you move from something terrible to something brand new down the road, you pay another $100 a square metre. But if you can show you can do it at the current premises for no extra cost ….”

“Following the move, we’ve probably got the organisation at a point where we’re going into best performance. From a returns perspective we’re right at the top of the ladder.”

Extract from Blundell, L. 2012, ‘The business of workplace transformation’, The Fifth Estate e-book