Greening your business

CitySwitch award winners blaze a trail to net zero

See how progressive office-based businesses reduce their environmental impact

cityswitch awards 2023

CitySwitch is a free national program that helps office-based businesses reduce their emissions by mapping a pathway to net zero.

Together with other councils and expert partners we run workshops, create educational resources, and help businesses connect with one another for peer support.

Around 19% of Australian office spaces are signed up to CitySwitch.

Each year CitySwitch celebrates organisations leading the charge to increase efficiency, reduce environmental impact and pioneer new sustainability initiatives.

Industry experts from NABERS, Climate Active and Climate Works judged this year’s CitySwitch award nominees.

Signatory of the Year under 2000sqm – Highly Commended

Gilbert and Tobin

Gilbert and Tobin (G+T) is an award winning law firm with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.

Reducing emissions is an important focus for the firm. It’s been on a pathway to net zero emissions for 10 years and from 2019 to 2022 it slashed its emissions by 69.5%.

This impressive result was achieved by:

  • buying accredited GreenPower renewable electricity for all its offices – this boosted the NABERS rating of the Sydney office to 6 stars
  • energy efficient office and IT equipment upgrades
  • follow-me printing and double-sided printing as default.

Gilbert and Tobin also removed all single use cups for dine-in and takeaway orders at the company cafe in its Sydney office. In its Melbourne office – which doesn’t have an onsite cafe – reusable cup stations were installed to prompt employees to grab one when going to buy coffee.

Image courtesy of Gilbert and Tobin
Image courtesy of Gilbert and Tobin

Signatory of the Year under 2000sqm – Winner

Dixon Appointments

Dixon Appointments is a small recruitment firm specialising in Melbourne’s education, commercial, not-for-profit, and government sectors.

Dixon prides itself on its environmental and social performance. It’s achieved IS14001 environmental management certification and has been carbon neutral rated for more than 10 years.

By introducing energy and water efficiency measures, and switching to buying accredited GreenPower renewable electricity, Dixon achieved a NABERS 6-star rating.

To foster a culture of sustainability, Dixon educates all new employees about NABERS and its ISO environment certification as part of its induction program for new employees. And sustainability is a standing agenda item at monthly team meetings.

Signatory of the Year over 2000sq m – Winner


HESTA is a superannuation fund for workers in the health and community service sectors.

This award recognised its Ways of Thriving in the Future project, including the refurbishment of 2 floors of its national office.

HESTA worked with consultant, WSP, to draft a strategy for the fit-out which was assessed against the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

WSP found the build addressed 31 of 41 targets – including all of HESTA’s chosen sustainable development goals – giving the fit-out a 76% SDG contribution rate.

Project highlights:

  • Started with an environmental management plan and design
  • Sourced sustainable furniture and building materials
  • Chose low energy lighting and computing products
  • Measured recycling rates
  • Incorporated a social enterprise café, STREAT, which trains at risk youth
  • Recycled 93% of materials from the demolition – furniture was donated to a local school
  • Achieved a 5.5 NABERS rating

HESTA is currently looking to buy renewable energy to help meet its goal of cutting operational emissions by 45% by 2030. According to this year’s carbon neutral report, HESTA is only 10% away from this goal.

HESTA event room. Image courtesy of HESTA
HESTA event room. Image courtesy of HESTA

Partnership of the Year – Winner

Brookfield Properties and tenants

The Partnership of the Year award recognises excellence resulting from a partnership between building owners, managers and tenants.

Brookfield Properties won the award for its project called Breaking the Plastic Habit.

Its partnership was multi-faceted. Brookfield collaborated with its tenants – such as food court eateries and corporates like NAB and Hub co-working spaces – along with its own employees.

Starting before the recent single use plastic legislation came into effect, Brookfield ran a pilot program across 2 buildings in Perth and Sydney.

The initial challenge asked cafe court businesses to eliminate 1 single use item. Many businesses embraced the challenge and removed 3 or more single use items.

Proving very successful over a 12-month period, the Breaking the Plastic Habit program was then rolled out nationally.

Project highlights:

  • More than 2.7 million single use items were avoided across Brookfield’s base buildings and corporate offices in 2022.
  • Brookfield tried initiatives in its own offices and shared lessons with the tenants in its buildings. For example, it successfully removed 23 single-use items from its corporate offices including packaging for snacks, condiments, tea, flowers and newspapers.
  • The company partnered with Plastic Oceans Australasia to offer its tenants – such as NAB, Hub, and The Point – the opportunity to analyse their office waste and identify opportunities to replace or remove single use plastic items from supply chains. This was a first of its kind initiative for a whole commercial office building in Australia.

Other piloted initiatives included: Simply Cups takeaway cup recycling program, water refill station, container deposit vending machine in Perth, beeswax wrap workshops and Picnics Unwrapped lunches with tenants.

Brookfield water refill station. Image courtesy of Brookfield
Brookfield water refill station. Image courtesy of Brookfield

Brookfield bees wax wrap workshops. Image courtesy of Brookfield
Brookfield bees wax wrap workshops. Image courtesy of Brookfield

Leadership Award

Property NSW

The Leadership Award acknowledges excellence in building climate resilience – motivating, upskilling, and encouraging best practice internally and externally.

Property NSW manages the sustainability of NSW Government office buildings.

Its recent initiatives and achievements include:

  • buying 100% accredited GreenPower renewable electricity for all the sites it owns
  • reducing carbon emissions by 15% between financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21
  • installing scales to accurately measure the waste coming out of its buildings its working with NSW Treasury to make this practice mandatory across the state
  • a large-scale behind-the-meter battery roll-out with full virtual power plant functionality at 16 government owned properties – this is an Australian first
  • developing its own net zero pathway and establishing baseline carbon inventory
  • achieving Climate Active status for 2 consecutive years
  • planning a feasibility review of several owned buildings for the installation of EV charging infrastructure
  • Simply Cups takeaway cup recycling program

Other nominees

  • Steenson Varming
  • ANZ
  • Colliers
  • Shape

Get help

If you’re working in an office-based organisation and you’re keen to find out your best options to buy renewable electricity, reduce waste and other ways to significantly reduce your environmental impact, get in touch. We’d love to help you.

Emily Keegan, CitySwitch program manager

Published 11 May 2023, updated 14 February 2024

More on Net zero