Episode 19: Unpacking sustainable building & education

In episode 19 we speak with Brian and Simon, two of the seven directors of the Sustainable Builders Alliance. We discuss the ins and outs of the SBA, zero carbon homes, and the educational content they provide and look to substantially grow into the future. we also touch on personal growth and the positive impacts the SBA has had for both our guests. It’s a must-listen for those looking for a reliable educational source on building better that will continue to provide an evolving wealth of knowledge.

Sustainable Builders Alliance:

Anthony’s webinar with Builders Declare:

Tiger Bins Bendigo:


Episode Transcript

Anthony 00:00
Hello, and welcome to the outlier Podcast, the podcast for everyone who is interested in
building better homes. My name is Anthony, and I am the founder and lead designer of outlier.
And I’m passionate about creating beautiful and high performing homes. I sit down regularly to
chat with industry experts to help educate Australians about the potential of creating healthy,
comfortable and energy efficient homes. Whether you’re looking to build your forever home,
renovate your existing house, or simply eager to learn more, tune in every month wherever you
get your podcasts. We hope you join us on this journey. This is episode 18. And in this two part
episode, we chat with Brian from ice smart building group and Simon from Melbourne
sustainable homes. Two of the seven directors of sustainable builders Alliance, we discuss the
ins and outs of SBA, zero carbon homes and the educational content they provide and look to
substantially grow into the future. We also touch on personal growth and the positive impacts
SBA has had for both our guests. It’s a must listen, for those looking for a reliable educational
source on building better that will continue to provide an evolving wealth of knowledge.
Welcome, Simon O’Brien Great to have you both. Really appreciate you taking the time to you
know, have a chat with us today and just talk more about what you’ve both been up to,
particularly with with sustainability. Sustainable builders Alliance, I should say. So not off with
can we get you to briefly just tell our listeners who you both are? And what is sustainable
builders. Alliance? You know, what’s it all about?

Simon 01:44
I’ll go first then, Brian?

Brian 01:48
Yeah, Knock yourself out big fella

Simon 01:50
You always get get in early. But um, yeah, so my name is Simon Clark. I’m one of the two of us,
obviously, the host, the Sustainable Builders Yak, and I’m also director of Sustainable Homes
Melbourne and chair of the Sustainable Builders Alliance, which formally Builders Declare
Australia. Been in the construction industry, be about, just over two decades and really, I
suppose got onto the sustainability and construction probably over a decade ago. And I
suppose the tension that I saw to your question, asking you about the intention and what would
what people can get from Sustainable Builders Alliance, I think it’s clear to see from the
inception of Builders Declare, which was really I dunno, a petition based sort of thing, just come
in, sign up, and hope for the best. Obviously, from there, we put out webinars and created the
podcasts and, and found it sort of difficult to go, Okay, what’s next. And that’s where the
Sustainable Builders Alliance is sort of started, and the community is amazing, you know, the
sponsors that we’ve got behind it, and the builders that are a part of it, I know that are at the
top of their game. And then you know, our push for education, and we want to drive policy as
much as we can. And there’s loads of opportunity.

Anthony 03:26
Yeah, I’m glad you’re touched on policy as well, you know, that’s is that one of those ultimate
outcomes towards I mean, everyone’s got so much passion. That’s undeniable. I see this time
and time again, with your collective and group and that’s the driving force there. And you
know, policy is one of those things that you’re trying to influence or have advocate for better
improving improvements in industry is

Simon 03:47
Yeah, for sure. I know. Brian had his way with the NCC. That’d be a big changes. And certainly
some really, yeah. There’s some intelligent people amongst us, like Brian and Jeremy Spencer,
that can really push the agenda and know exactly what they’re talking about. And what really
Australia needs to improve to these world standards of energy efficient and sustainable

Anthony 04:16
Yeah, thank you.
Brian 04:17

Oh, my turn pips. All right. Brian Guinan from a iSmart Building Group in Perth, Western
Australia. I am a carpenter by trade, Father by profession, and I do a lot of other things as well.
And most people will or listening to this. I think we share the same listenership kind of we get a
lot of questions about your podcast as well. So in brief, I guess I joined when it was builders
declare at the very start the guys did the first webinar and I responded to that webinar.
Essentially just wanted to make a difference from being from Europe. I’m Irish, and being from
Europe, the standard of construction and efficiency was so far out Head of what we’re dealing
with in Western Australia. I just thought, you know, we have to make a difference if we’re going
to, if our kids are going to have any kind of a world to live in and our grandkids, we need to
stand up and make a difference. As simple as that. It’s not just the two of us though, we have
Michael Limb, from Michael Limb builders, we have Jeremy Spencer from Positive Footprints,
Hamish Wade from Sanctum homes, Michael Murphy from Align Building. And last but not least,
is Jessie Glascott from G. Lux builders. So there’s there’s actually seven of us. So you know,
many hands make light work, I guess. But yeah, it’s, I guess we’re all aligned. And when we,
when we were looking for a new name, sustainable builders Alliance, you know, it just worked.
It just really worked with what we were trying to do. We’ll talk a little bit more later on about
why we moved from declare across the SBA. But we knew that we needed to do something
essentially. Yeah, that’s a little bit of a brief history, ya know, and

Anthony 05:56
I mean, there’s seven of you taking that leadership role for certain, however, you know, you do
have a substantial community around you this forever growing. So I hope that you know, as
listeners are tuning in now that they’re also going straight over to SBS website and joining and
becoming a part of that, and you will touch more on that as well as we move forward. So
sustainability, it is in the name, I might ask you both, you know, what does that mean to you
each individually, you know, what is sustainable building? to both? And

Brian 06:24
I’ll take the lead this time, I guess, because you wentfirst lesson, Simon. So for me, personally,
it’s about the future. And sustainability is the phrase that everyone, you know, we could say
this in 100 different ways. But when it comes to our future, it needs to be sustainable. We need
to have a world for our future generations. If we continue to work as we work. If we continue to
live as we live. It’s a throwaway society. And that’s not sustainable. We all know that, like
global warming is a reality. And we need to change and we need to change very, very quickly.
For me, personally, sustainability is it’s a holistic approach. It’s not just putting your recyclables
in a recycle bin, there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s a lot more that we have to own up to.
And I think, you know, personally, admitting, you know, that we’re irresponsible with what we
do. I think that’s the first step. If we admit it, then we can accept change, and we can move
forward, I think that’s one of the biggest things we need to do. And as an industry, we’re
getting there, we’re slow, it’s a big bore to try and turn. But I think we are definitely getting
there. One of the first things like we all know, it’s once it becomes fashionable, it becomes
achievable. And that’s where we’re at right now as an industry. It is becoming fashionable, it is
becoming something that everybody needs and wants in the industry, which is a fantastic
thing. So for me personally, it’s the holistic approach. Yeah. And

Anthony 07:47
how do you how would you respond to someone to sort of say, Hey, how can I be more
accountable for these things? You know, is there something that has that you think about in
this approach? Like, do you think maybe before you purchase something, maybe what that end
goal is, do you have any values in your day to day life or your approach to building when
designing that you think about?

Brian 08:06
Think before you act? Yeah, I think that’s the the easiest message we can put out there to the
world as a whole is Think before you act. And it’s that simple everyday. And I’ve started doing it
in the last 10 years, every single thing I do, there’s a consequence to everything we do. It takes
us bit seconds to think and change your decision. That’s all it is. It’s not rocket science. It’s just
common sense, in my opinion. So think before you act. So it’s, you know, a lot of this is not
education or anything, it’s just a thought process. That’s all it is. Yeah,

Anthony 08:35
great. Well, Simon, do you want to maybe just touch on what sustainability means to yourself
and personally?

Simon 08:43
Yeah. Firstly, I’m very motivated individual, but I find it hard. Just humans, just the path of least
resistance is the typical path that’s taken unless it’s, I don’t know, ask you sitting here would be
devotees to it. It’s almost a replacement of hate to use the word religion, I see it as but it’s just
a way of it’s a mindset, the thought process that this is what you do, like just over the weekend,
cleaning out the house a bit. We’ve got all this soft plastic laying around, it kills me. I know that
I need even have it laying around. Because I can’t recycle it. It looks like I’ve found somewhere
that can recycle it but you’ve got to anyway, it’s just there’s things you got to do. You’ve got to
call them up or email them and then you got to pay 10 bucks and they come and pick it up. I
mean, it’s not that hard. But humans are busy humans are stressed and in times of challenge
and in climate, climate challenges and economic challenges. It’s not going to be the easiest
thing for people. So I believe as much as builders. Sustainable builders alliance is really a
bottom up approach. There’s there’s It’s not gonna get mass adoption unless it is coming from
the top, particularly as well. But just to answer your question in brief, just that a building is
using low carbon materials for energy efficient homes is the simple as like and make it Yeah,

Anthony 10:20
I mean, most of yourself, it’s your business name right at sustainable homes Melbourne. So
you’ve made a conscious decision to put sustainable in your business name. So it must have
meant a lot to you. And, you know, you’ve just touched on what it is to do. So that Yeah, that’s
amazing. And I suppose I just quickly mentioned, you talked about soft plastics, we’re very
fortunate where we are located as we have a local skipping supplier who made a decision a
couple of years ago to spend the extra money and build this complex where he could sort the
materials that come in, and he’s usually averaging around 90% waste from construction sites
being recycled, and he soft plastics, he’s found a provider that takes that and turns it into a
material that gets used in asphalt paving. So yeah, if anyone in the Bendigo regions or
thereafter there is a supply here, if you want to touch base, we can help you out there. And I
hope there’s others elsewhere doing this as well. So Melbourne based or, you know, Perth or
wherever else in the country as well. So I helped someone just to reach out to a few other
people doing this and passionate about it and see if there’s any connections.

Simon 11:24
Yeah, I’d love to know who that supplier has gone. Not too far from you on messaging ranges
anyway. But

Anthony 11:29
oh, there you go. Wasn’t where are they? Oh, wow. Yeah, touch more on that a bit later.
I’m pretty sure that am McCormick’s Australia, recycling soft plastics as well. And several
products. I’d say board is one of them. So everyone has a mixture of soft plastics and paper. I’m
pretty sure. Don’t quote me on that. But look at the webinar last week. Maybe go back and
have a listen to that. Go to the sba.com. Go to you. Have a look at those webinars there. Check
it out,

Simon 11:56
check it out. But just just to be clear, I am talking about sort of the individual. Yeah. Council

Anthony 12:04
I’ll get the details from Rob and taglines and pass on who is that? Who’s directs? Contact is in
Melbourne that’s doing this as well. Because then yeah, it’s great to share that knowledge. And
I guess we’ve just exemplified exactly what we’re doing. Yes. Yeah. All right. The question that
a few people have actually asked me is, why the change? Why did you change from builders
declare to sustainable builders Alliance?

Simon 12:29
Yes, we’ve heard that many times as well. And this is a problem. As Brian can attest, there’s
many arm wrestle over this one

Brian 12:36
topic of conversation in many meetings. Yes, yes. So

Simon 12:39
obviously, a lot of people I assume, would no bills declare, emerge from the the construction
declares movement, which started in the UK, it was 2020. It’s sort of sorry, it’s 2019, sort of
time that well with the fall off with the fires that we had in eastern Australia at the time. And
then architects declare quickly started, great community of architects in Australia quickly
adopted it. And then now I was contacted by one of those architects, and then yeah, it was
declared, started, you know, the bunch of builders quickly jump on that. And that’s who we all
have here. Now, as Brian mentioned, the seven directors of us. And then we realised quickly
that it’s, I want now so that you can sign up for your best intention. But then there’s no
guidance, there’s no validation, there’s nothing thereafter, there’s no actionable tangible,
tangible sort of outcome based around it. So and that’s what we wanted. That was, you know,
it’s pretty clear that to get anything to happen, you need to have clear action. So that’s why we
moved over to sustainable builders Alliance and with the intention to provide that and facilitate
action. Put it that way. Now, that’s great. And

Anthony 14:10
further to that, I suppose is there what can people gain from coming over and becoming part of
the Alliance? If they sign up? What is it that you’re looking to? You know, why should they jump
on board? What are the what are the things that you guys spend, let’s, let’s say the best sales
pitch you came across. For those who maybe are sitting on the fence or just need a nudge?

Brian 14:31
I would say I’ll take this assignment. And I would say, look, the easiest way to describe this is
assistance and knowledge. That’s probably the easiest way to describe what we do at the
moment. Now, we’re, we have really, really good ideas and trajectories where we’re gonna go
with this, but it starts with assistance and knowledge. And if you’re looking for, you know,
information for risk free improvement, that’s kind of where we’re at. So you’ve got the industry
Guide. giving us information plus our own experience all on one platform. And at the moment,
it’s completely focused around, you know, reducing our carbon footprint, hitting seven stars,
you know, with as much ease as possible. And then after that, it’s, it’s, you know, increasing the
knowledge and the industry and, and pushing as much information out as we can there, but
pushing the right information out so that people have the tools to increase the performance
and lower the carbon footprint. So essentially, everything’s based around the website at the
moment, that will change. But at the moment, you’re looking at, you know, a website, which
has so much consultation material in there, and it’s all free. It’s incredible. So if you want first
step knowledge, just first step knowledge there, if you want more in depth knowledge, there’s
that too. If you want, you know, high end consultation, then there’s access to I don’t know how
many professionals on the website. So when you look at content, for assistance, knowledge, it’s
all there. That’s kind of where we’re at at the moment, is to get that knowledge out to the
industry. We want to get as much knowledge as we can to the industry professionals, builders,
architects, designers, engineers, anyone that’s out there, even homeowner builders, whoever’s
out there that needs this knowledge. That’s where we’re at at the moment. It’s it’s knowledge
sharing, is where we’re at. Yeah, and

Anthony 16:21
maybe just a close up on the homeowners as well. You know, there’s people who are potentially
looking to build, they have this idea in mind, maybe they don’t have the knowledge within their
team that they’ve got together at that point. This is definitely a resource that they can come to
as well, right. And yeah, only and learn and maybe educate those in their teams such as the
designers, or maybe they got a builder as well, who may not be aware of this as well. So that’s,
that’s something that can definitely do.

Brian 16:47
Yeah, absolutely. One of the things when we were looking at this at the very start, and I’ll have
to give kudos to Jeremy Spencer for this one. And we looked at everyone that’s out there, and
there’s there’s a couple of really heavy hitters in the industry, we all know who they are when it
comes to podcasts. And a lot of them are running courses and stuff at the moment. But there’s
nowhere that had, you know, a platform where all the information was there and accessible.
You know what I mean? Be it in webinars, be it in an actual website, or be it in podcasts, or
whatever it was. And we thought, you know, what, this is what we need, we need one platform
that has everything. Yeah, we’ve got the webinars, we’ve got the podcasts, we’ve got, you
know, the roadmap to zero carbon, which is extensive, it’s incredible. The volume of
information, and the volume of knowledge that’s attached to all of this is what we were
targeting, this is what we want to deliver. And this was one of the deliverables when we sat
down. I don’t know how many times we’ve done this assignment so many times that we looked
at what we want, like, what are we doing? What do we want to achieve? This is the first step of
what we want to achieve. Yeah,

Anthony 17:48
that’s, like, amazing, if you have highlighted is another question that I do have. You’ve
mentioned a few times that the amount of top things that you’re doing behind the scenes, the
time you’re putting into this, do you mind give me a little bit of insight into how this has
occurred? Is the regular meetings hold? You know, what, what are you doing behind the scenes
that we’re not aware of?

Brian 18:11
If anyone’s a small business, that’s what we do. Yeah. It’s just not as often. So everyone, that
one’s business, you run through your finances, you run through your KPIs, you run through
where you’re headed, and what you’re doing. And it’s done either on a weekly basis, or bi
weekly basis. We do it on a monthly basis at the moment. So we hold meetings, and at the
moment, it’s getting a little bit, you know, I guess heavy with regards to the input that we have
to give. So we’re now starting to split up into groups so that we can, you know, we can manage
it more. It does look previously, it took a lot of effort to get to where we are right now. And but I
think moving forward. I think Simon is probably the brainchild behind this the way he’s I don’t I
don’t have the smarts to do what Simon’s doing right now. But he’s got a brand map mapped
out for everything. Yeah, there’s look, there’s a lot to it. We do give a lot of time to it. We, we
believe in what we’re doing. We absolutely want to continue. And with the trajectory that we’re
looking at, there’s a lot of arms where we can go. I don’t know if you want to come in. So I’m
gonna just maybe embellish on that a little bit.

Anthony 19:24
Yeah, I want to hear more about these arms. And it sounds like you’re all working to your
strengths. And you know, that’s even more testament to the success of a collaborative
approach. So

Simon 19:33
yeah, yeah. Okay. Yeah. So it’s a challenge is we don’t know in this, I suppose. Really, one thing
we’ve certainly identified, even before the launch just a couple of months before launch is so
many opportunities coming our way and we need to be deflecting some. And so we do have a
sort of a mind map of, of where we can go and the opportunities present presenting to us I
think our real focus at this point is well, in conjunction with websites really a tool to welcome in
those builders that are signing up as whether it’s members or sponsors. We’ll probably talk a
bit more about that as weights on fall, Brian, but um, yeah. Yeah, that tool. The roadmap as
Brian mentioned, yeah, Jeremy Spencer’s done, and in his two and a half decades in the
industry is is basically all in that. And, and our intention now, potentially, that’s going to
become a course, and to really ready builders. For seven stars, there’s builders, clearly, we’ve
had the pushback, the migration to seven star standard. Because there’s no material out there.
I don’t know what governments typical, and industry bodies are typically just so slow to move
so that if a builder was to read and digest and understand that materials on the website, they
will have no issue executing a seven star home. But we want to make that tangible and likely
into a course that, that we can also then celebrate the builders that are at the top of their
game, the builders that we can verify says that as part of sustainable builders alliance that
have met, you know, the high standards of sustainability. Yeah, there’s, we’re at the very, very

Brian 21:33
stage, we’re in our infancy, and I love hearing that to think we’re achieving we are in our
infancy, there is so much more to give, we haven’t even touched on, you know, construction,
detailing Passive House, none of that today on the website, yet, there’s so much more
information to come. And then as, as Simon has mentioned, like, courses, education is one of
the arms that we will do, it’s just a matter of time. So, you know, giving courses on whatever
the public needs, and that will be a process that we will go through. Yeah, there’s also
consultation, there’s, you know, conjunction or alignment with, you know, TF and all this kind of
stuff. There’s, there’s, there’s a lot there. It’s just which doors open first. That’s all I guess,

Anthony 22:15
that’s great. I mean, I was going to ask, you know, what is coming forward? So you’ve just put
that in perspective. This is in its infancy. We’re just beginning, we have so much more to go. I
mean, how far to the future? Are you looking at the moment like for deliverables and things
that you’re going to have to provide? You’ve touched on a core, and I will, I can’t speak more
highly of what Jeremy has done with that roadmap to zero carbon, if I’ve seen some insight into
that he’s presented recently. That is a must for everyone listening to definitely keep an eye out
for when that isn’t live yet or soon to be.

Over the course is right

Anthony 22:51
now because not everyone pleased of approaching on that I’m sure follow along on the social
media platforms and check in when that goes live. But what else? Is there anything further the
webinars are going to continue? I imagine the the education are you looking at doing any
seminars, deliverables, like in that way, or there’s anything further you can expand on?

Brian 23:08
There’s huge amount. That’s it’s exactly like Simon said, we’re getting so much opportunity
presented to us at the moment. Like it’s not possible to put our finger in every pie right now,
we just need to, you know, take our time, as we’ve done in the past, we would have liked to
release this this website two years ago, but it wasn’t ready. And we just took our time until it
was ready. And now it’s ready. And now it’s good. So as we move forward, I think one of the
first things will be the content that we have right now, to get that more mainstream. So I think,
get the website out so that people are more aware of it. So there’ll be a campaign for where we
push that out on social media platforms and talking to people like you, Anthony, and making
sure that people are aware of the information that’s already there. That’s the first step. Then
after that will be to courses I would imagine. Then it’s more population on the website. So
getting more detailing on a website, etc. And then from there, there’s Yeah, it’s, it’s down to us
as a group of individuals where we go from there. Yeah, there’s there is a lot, there is a lot and I
like I can I can say, Oh, we’re gonna do this, and this and this and this and this, but I can’t do
that. Because we don’t know if we’re going to deliver on that. Yeah, you know what I mean? All
I know is that we are definitely going to be pushing hard in the education sector and, you know,
information sharing and knowledge. That’s kind of where we were going first. Well, yeah, one

Simon 24:28
thing I started telling what, sorry, sorry, I think one thing I can’t touch on. We do, you know, we
want the cream to rise to the top, you know, the best of the best sustainable builders rise to the
top, but they’re the ones that have signed up showing commitment. And whether they’re
sponsors or members at this point. What we often get customers wanting to know how can we
find a builder in our area so that that will be one thing that we can take care of? will take care
of in the next few months is a searchable function on the website so consumers can go there
and find sustainable builder in their area. Google. Google, you can’t tell just from clay to give
them a French you can’t tell what you’re looking at. But we want to make a reference for that.
Yeah, these are builders that are standing proud and doing the right thing and, and have a
track record of

Anthony 25:25
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