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Grow Me the Money

McManus Real Estate in Lara, Victoria took an environmental leadership role in the local community and achieved statewide recognition. Tony McManus talks about how his business is helping the planet, one property at a time.

Inspired by the knowledge gained by participating in the Leaders for Geelong leadership development program facilitated by the Committee for Geelong, I decided to sign up for the Victorian Employer’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (VECCI) Grow Me The Money program. I believed that the program would be very complementary to one of our core values of giving back to our local community.

To actually win the award for Best Action Plan in our category was an unexpected bonus of participating in the program. The $5000 prize will be invested in a drought tolerant display garden at the front of our office.

McManus Real Estate wanted to differentiate ourselves from competitors and take advantage of our high profile location and local connections, to become an example to not only clients but the wider community of Lara, from which the company operates. There is a growing awareness of not only the commercial savings but the appreciation of the benefits to the environment of reducing our carbon footprint.

I feel that with the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) on the Federal Government’s agenda, it makes sense to plan to have an awareness of how a business will be affected by the eventual introduction of these programs. By having already established and demonstrated our credentials in the area of Carbon Footprint Reduction we will be able to set an example for others to follow.

We joined the Grow Me The Money program in mid 2009 and haven’t looked back. We developed a ‘Green Team’ and action plan and have already executed 17 out of 24 green initiatives. The remaining seven are works in progress.

Large volumes of conveyencing and contracts meant large amounts of internal printing for us, so introducing small pursuits like compulsory double-sided printing, paper recycling and electronic document storage (rather than printing and filing) were fundamental in getting the ball rolling for us.

There has been substantial cost savings already in terms of our paper usage. With the introduction of recycle bins and mandatory double-sided printing and photocopying, we estimate we have saved over 30 per cent.

With a portfolio of 460 properties, we see an importance of not just promoting being green internally, but educating landlords, tenants and suppliers on the long term benefits of living sustainably. Our focus and awarenes of our community made it a fairly logical step to not only develop an action plan for reducing our carbon footprint but to also focus on involving our key stakeholders.

McManus Real Estate distributes a monthly newsletter to our landlords featuring tips, advice and valuable information on reducing energy, waste and water consumption and how this in turn can save the environment, as well as money.

As one of seven Allpoints Real Estate agencies operating in the Greater Geelong Region, we are sharing the processes implemenated and results achieved in the hope similar green initiatives will be rolled out in the other six offices. We are happy to use our experience as an example and encourage them to follow suit buy outlining the benefits to them.

Part of the role of our ‘Green Team’ has also been sourcing a wide range of publications regarding sustainability and distributing them to new tenants at the start of their lease.

Property managers conduct half yearly routine inspections at all McManus Real Estate properties, and have also helped encourage landlords to comply with the new inspection checklist which includes green items like water-saving shower heads. We hope to include others like sustainable gardens, water tanks and lighting requirements on the checklist in coming months.

In the immediate future, McManus Real Estate is looking to utitlise its prime office location (cornering two main streets) and create a drought tolerant garden to showcase water conservation and landscaping to the community. We hope to educate and support landlords and tenants on how to promote water conservation through this gardening display.

A major benefit of being involved in VECCI’s Grow Me The Money program has been the engagement of staff members. Myself, Marie Kukanovski and Nicole Reimer form the ‘Green Team’ at McManus Real Estate. We couldn’t have won this award without positive particpation and involvement from members of staff .

We know we’re just scratching the surface and there’s so much room to grow, but we’re enjoying being involved in something new and feel like it’s a positive thing for us to be associated with.

How McManus Real Estate is making a difference:
Reduce heating/cooling related energy use and associated costs by 15 per cent
Reduce energy use from lighting and associated costs by 35 per cent
Significant paper reduction by recyclying, using recyled paper containing and setting all printers and photocopiers to default double-sided printing
Educate our landlords, tenants, builders, trades-people, vendors and the wider community on sustainabilty through letters, brochures, newsletters, local seminars and a drought-tolerant display garden

About Grow Me The Money
Grow Me The Money is an online program designed to help small to medium sized businesses become more sustainable and save money. Participants are provided easy-to-use online tools via a personalised web account; given support and advice specific to their business; and learn from the experiences of others businesses through the online forum and networking events.

So far, program participants have achieved an average 15.4 per cent reduction in their carbon footprint, and $6,600 in bottom line savings. Recent analysis by VECCI found that businesses can deliver one third of Australia’s 2020 emissions reduction target of 138 million tonnes (or five per cent below the 2000 level) by undertaking a sustainability program such as Grow Me The Money to achieve on average emissions cuts.

Grow Me The Money has been developed in partnership with the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) and Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA Victoria) under a Sustainability Covenant. Victorian small to medium sized businesses have been participating in Grow Me The Money since April 2007.

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