Cooper and Company has always taken a long-term view of the way we work. We are engaged in the ongoing regeneration of nine blocks of central Auckland, refurbishing venerable heritage warehouses for a new age, inserting contemporary architecture and creating public spaces in which people can connect.
A successful long-term approach is one in which economic, environmental and social outcomes support one another. But as we approach the task of sustainability in more granular detail, we are finding the short term – by which I mean the way we go about our day-to-day activities – is just as important.
Here’s an example: This year we have been working with Westpac to restructure Britomart’s lending as Green Loans. Restructuring our debt as Green Loans builds on the years of effort we’ve put into ensuring our buildings comply with the requirements of a range of accreditation programmes, including the NZ Green Building Council's Green Star ratings and NABERSNZ assessments for energy efficiency. With Westpac’s help, we’ve drawn up a Sustainable Debt Framework that governs our loan criteria and how these loans are allocated to our buildings. This detailed day-to-day work involving a number of organisations took place over a six-week period. There is no financial incentive for us to do this; we do it because it aligns another aspect of our business with our core values and our approach to sustainability. Achievements like our Green Loans transition can seem like small wins, but the cumulative effect of them is powerful.
This is our fourth annual Sustainability Report. The creation of them sprang from a desire to bring focus and clarity to our sustainability efforts: to celebrate our successes, certainly, but to also be frank about the areas in which we can improve. We have found that being explicit about our commitment to sustainability and honestly assessing how we measure up has served as an invitation to our partners to explore better ways of working together.
Last year, for example, we reported on the creation of The Hotel Britomart, New Zealand’s first hotel to receive a 5 Green Star rating from the NZ Green Building Council. This year, the lessons from that project – including the rigorous attention to detail needed to ensure every product selected complies with Green Star requirements – have been applied to the refurbishment of the Hayman Kronfeld Buildings, two heritage warehouses that are also targeting 5 Green Star certification on completion.
We make buildings and public spaces so that people can connect in them, something that has assumed particular importance in the wake of Covid lockdowns. This spring, it’s been gratifying to see greater numbers of people returning to their Britomart workplaces, sharing free coffee together in on our Reusable Tuesday event during the Climate Festival or simply enjoying the sun on the lawn in Takutai Square.
On the face of it, you might say these connections have little to do with sustainability. But sustainability is the ultimate collaborative endeavour, and it is our hope that making places that people enjoy connecting in – and, through this report and other means, being vocal about our long-term efforts to make these places better for people and the planet.
Matthew Cockram, chief executive officer, Britomart