2020 Performance Highlights
- Our biodiversity tool was used to identify on-site actions to improve biodiversity at two shopping centres.
- Our biodiversity project investments supported the restoration of ecosystems, improvement of waterways and removal of over 6,400 tonnes of CO2-e emissions.
- Biodiversity criteria continued to be incorporated into our supplier pre-qualification and selection processes.
The GPT Environment Data Pack details the full performance of our portfolio, funds and assets since 2005, including building ratings and attributes. Our Climate Disclosure Statement discloses climate risk, strategy and response in alignment with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
Background and Policy
We recognise biodiversity’s intrinsic value and that healthy and diverse ecosystems, as well as the wellbeing of society, are interdependent and the property sector and its supply chain can be both negative and positive impacts on this. At the most basic level, land occupied by commercial buildings replaces natural ecosystems and reduces available habitat, and with more complexity, commercial buildings can retain or reintroduce ecosystems but with breaks in resilient ecological links such as habitat corridors, invasive species introduction or ongoing pollutive impacts.
GPT aims to combat the negative effects of this by responsibly managing our biodiversity impact throughout the lifecycle of our assets: including in design, construction and operations/maintenance.
We actively protect the natural environment by:
- Not operating or developing in areas of World Heritage, IUCN I-IV protected status or other similar significance.
- Measuring and monitoring our impacts on biodiversity.
- Undertaking restorative projects to reintroduce green spaces and planting corridors in otherwise urbanised areas.
- Supporting broader efforts to conserve natural environments.
- Improving stormwater management.
- Influencing customer behaviours through awareness activities.
GPT’s impacts on biodiversity are further limited as our development activities typically occur within existing built environments rather than in undeveloped natural habitats.
Our commitments and approach to managing biodiversity primarily respond to the direct and local impacts of GPT’s operations. Other policies reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, waste to landfill and cut demand for potable water use. These interconnected policies relate to the larger scale indirect impacts on biodiversity.
GPT's Biodiversity Policy contains our complete policy background and commitments.
Our methods for delivering positive biodiversity outcomes
A number of initiatives are underway to help make a positive contribution to biodiversity at GPT’s sites. These include:
Biodiversity Measurement Tool
Unlike carbon and water, there’s no widely used or accepted standard for measuring the value of biodiversity. To overcome this challenge, GPT developed a practical biodiversity measure that establishes a baseline for on-site biodiversity, also allowing for tracking the performance at sites.
Our process has been shared with the Green Building Council of Australia and it has formed a basis for the biodiversity component of the Green Star Performance Tool.
Baselines have been completed for each asset and strategies and targets for improvement are underway each year as part of GPT's asset planning process.
As biodiversity can be directly and indirectly impacted through our operations and those of our suppliers, biodiversity criteria are explicitly included in GPT’s supplier pre-qualification and selection process for relevant services. For example, landscaping service selection criteria considers expertise and experience relating to:
- Chemical management and selection to minimise environmental impact in use, manufacture and disposal.
- Preference of eco-labelling for products used, such as certification by Good Environmental Choice Australia.
- Native and local species selection and management in order to provide a variety of different structures (shrub and ground cover, mid-storey and over-storey) and a range of fast, medium and slow growing species.
- Irrigation and selection of drought tolerant and water efficient plants which are suitable for the local climate, geology and soil type.
- Fauna habitat, including design of landscapes to be consistent with adjacent lands and other wildlife and waterway corridors.
- Multi-functionality and selection of plants with more than one function e.g. shading, food producing (nectar, fruit or seeds) and habitat for vulnerable local fauna such as bats, butterflies and birds.
Collaboration with local First Nations People
First Nations People have an intrinsic connection to traditional land and are protectors of knowledge that has been passed through generations. GPT recognises and pays respect to Traditional Owners, working to develop meaningful partnerships to protect and enhance the natural environment to the benefit of biodiversity.
Raising biodiversity awareness and training our staff, suppliers and community
Biodiversity is a poorly understood subject in the property industry. However reviews have revealed that GPT employees are keenly interested in our potential impacts on biodiversity.
GPT regularly conducts biodiversity awareness training for all of its operations managers as well as contractors such as cleaners and waste companies.
The majority of GPT’s assets are located in ‘brownfield’, highly urbanised areas that have been previously developed so have limited biodiversity impact or potential. However, GPT has developed sites and implemented innovative practices such as the creation of green space in Sydney’s Darling Park now enjoyed by city workers.
Avoiding and minimising depletion of resources
GPT has delivered considerable savings and ongoing avoidance in resource consumption like energy, water and waste recovery through its operations, which has an indirect impact on the depletion of virgin materials from the environment. See our other Environment webpages for more on these results.
Developing assets with local biodiversity in mind
GPT has demonstrated strong biodiversity practices for new developments. Biodiversity targets were a key element of sustainability briefs issued for major projects such as Rouse Hill Town Centre, Charlestown Square and Highpoint Shopping Centre. These biodiversity targets were above and beyond regulatory requirements with targets monitored as part of the project delivery process and ongoing operation.
Through each of these projects GPT endeavours to leave a positive legacy by restoring part of the local environment utilising native planting, providing both fauna habitat and enhancing stormwater flow-offs.
Development focus: Rouse Hill Town Centre
Prior to its development, the Rouse Hill Town Centre site was a golf course with little biodiversity value, giving GPT the opportunity to restore this value through various biodiversity controls.
Biodiversity targets consistent with those for nearby Caddies Creek were integrated into the Town Centre’s landscaping and where possible were designed to minimise artificial watering. As a result, 40% of the site area was protected as open space and 20% was revegetated to the local natural standard.
A saline soil management strategy was prepared and enacted as part of the soils plan in each of the site Environmental Management Plans (EMPs). These EMPs covered environmental issues including (but not limited to) soil erosion, dust, stormwater, waste, recycling, energy conservation through construction, vehicle movement and noise.
GPT’s voluntary target required 30% of the site’s biodiversity values to be reinstated through adopting an 80% endemic – plants specific to the geographical area - planting target. This target was formally monitored through the project delivery process by GPT’s development and sustainability management teams.
- Use of bio-swales and ponds covering 400m2 for toxics removal from stormwater prior to entering Caddies Creek.
- Gross pollutant traps to filter stormwater.
- Planting of more than 130,000 trees and plants, with more than 80% being indigenous.
- Limiting the size of the rainwater collection tank to maintain the environmental flows within Caddies Creek.
- A ‘Secret Garden’ providing insulation, stormwater management and an extension to green space.
- Working with the existing site topography and vegetation to minimise the project’s impact.
- Communicating messages on stormwater grates to educate visitors and staff on the importance of considering what we put down the drain for the benefit of the flora and fauna in the area.
- Using timbers from sustainably managed forests rather than old growth forests that disrupt the natural ecosystems.
Development focus: Highpoint Shopping Centre
Located on an old quarry site in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong, Highpoint Shopping Centre undertook a development significantly expanding the net lettable area. GPT set a strong environmental target for construction and operations upon completion.
Specific targets were set to minimise impact on biodiversity for:
- Materials used, and
- Stormwater management incorporating Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD).
Further to the construction impacts, the significant tract of land surrounding Highpoint provided opportunity to improve the biodiversity of the green spaces. Attributes of the green spaces included:
- Native and endemic species used for the majority of the new landscaping planted.
- Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) incorporating rain gardens and bio-swales were installed in a space-constrained, built up environment, using native and endemic species. The WSUD controls the stormwater runoff from the site as well as cleans and treats the runoff before it returns to the local environment and waterways. The stormwater runoff from Highpoint is part of the catchment area for the Maribyrnong River so it was important that stormwater is effectively managed and treated.