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2016 Premier's Sustainability Awards winners and finalists

The winners and finalists were announced at a gala dinner at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday 17 November 2016, view a photo gallery from the event.

Premier's Award

Chris Hill, Ngaire McGaw and staff (Mater), Minister Mark Bailey, Becher Townshend (Expanded Polystyrene Australia), Minster Steven Miles

Chris Hill, Ngaire McGaw and staff (Mater), Minister Mark Bailey, Becher Townshend (Expanded Polystyrene Australia), Minster Steven Miles

Winner

Mater Misericordiae Ltd – Sustainability at Mater

Despite the challenges of 24/7 operations in the resource-intensive health sector, Mater is leading the way in sustainability initiatives.

The Sustainability at Mater program incorporates over 170 projects, involving thousands of staff and resulting in $3.5 million in savings since 2008.

Sustainable practices are included in all aspects of the organisation – including energy and water use, waste management, procurement, facilities design, stakeholder engagement and transport.

The program has achieved significant results - electricity costs have reduced by more than 17 per cent since 2012; clinical waste has reduced by 185 tonnes per year since 2011; and recycling has increased by more than 140 tonnes since 2010.

Key to the success of the program is staff engagement. More than 3,300 staff members have signed the environmental sustainability pledge.

Minister's Award for Leadership in Sustainability

Minister Steven Miles, Minister Mark Bailey, Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corporation representatives, Dave O'Brien (Glencore)

Minister Steven Miles, Minister Mark Bailey, Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corporation representatives, Dave O'Brien (Glencore)

Winner

Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corporation – Sustainable rehabilitation of a culturally sensitive wetland

The Mungalla wetland, a vital ecosystem adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, has been completely restored, thanks to an innovative rehabilitation program led by the Traditional Owners – the Nywaigi [phon: “nu-wah-gee”], people.

Once overrun by freshwater weeds of National Significance, the wetland is now a thriving breeding ground once again.

Key to the restoration project was the removal of an earth wall which had been restricting tidal flows for decades, degrading the wetland to the point where little or no aquatic life existed below the layer of weeds.

The reintroduction of salt water has killed the weeds, improved water quality and stimulated the growth of saline-specific native flora.

This rehabilitation project has led to the discovery of nine species of fish previously unrecorded in the area and an increase in the numbers of iconic birds using the wetlands. 

Finalist

University of the Sunshine Coast – Leading edge in sustainable campus management

The University of the Sunshine Coast is committed to strengthening its leadership in sustainability, through innovative strategies which improve operations and foster a culture of environmental responsibility.

Since 2013, the University has implemented sustainability measures to manage increasing energy, water and waste costs and consumption demands as a result of campus expansion and enrolment growth.

USC became the first Australian university to install an on-site composter as part of a campus-wide waste streaming and reduction program.

Other initiatives include a water refill program to remove the sale of plastic water bottles and a lake storage water treatment plant, which re-uses stormwater run-off in the Stadium Pool and in air-conditioning cooling towers.

Through its sustainability program, the university has saved $1.5 million in utility costs and more than 7,000 tonnes in carbon emissions. 

Finalist

Mater Misericordiae Limited – Sustainability at Mater

Sustainability at Mater has considerably reduced the environmental impact of its business since 2008.

With a strong focus on targeted staff engagement programs, employees at every level of the organisation have been involved in significant achievements, including reductions in water and electricity consumption and running costs, as well as increased recycling rates.

The core philosophy behind the success is the mantra of ‘do no harm’ to the environment.

Eco-efficiency measures implemented at Mater have enabled more than $3.5 million to be reinvested in patient care.

Built Environment Award

Deborah and Julie Craig (Borgelt and Craig Architects), Minister Steven Miles and Neil Horrocks (CitySmart)

Deborah and Julie Craig (Borgelt and Craig Architects), Minister Steven Miles and Neil Horrocks (CitySmart)

Winner

Borgelt & Craig Architects – Sustainable fashion home studio

Borgelt and Craig Architects have transformed a small suburban house into a multifunctional home-studio for Rant Sustainable Clothing.

The building, based at The Gap, embodies each of the core principles of the clothing business – Ethical, Natural, Local – with the architects sourcing affordable, local, sustainable and recycled products to reduce the carbon footprint and improve efficiency.

The home-studio now uses 50 per cent less water than the average household and 90 per cent of its power comes from on-site solar panels. 

Finalist

Suncorp – Protecting the North

Suncorp’s Protecting the North strategy aims to build cyclone resilient communities in north Queensland.

The cost of cyclones – in terms of loss of life, injury, business and service disruption – is estimated to be in the order of 20 to 200 per cent of actual rebuilding costs.

The Protecting the North strategy started with ground-breaking research at James Cook University, which led to Australia’s first evidence-based policy pathway for cyclone resilience.

A new insurance benefit was introduced by Suncorp in 2016, which rewards home owners for building features and measures that strengthen their properties against cyclones. More than 14,000 customers have already signed-on, saving up to 20 per cent on their premiums. 

Finalist

Floth Sustainable Building Consultants - 69 Robertson Street, Fortitude Valley

Floth’s three-storey office space in Fortitude Valley has been purpose-built and retrofitted to receive the first six-star Green Star Design certified rating in Australia.

The design has encompassed water conservation principles, emissions initiatives and a focus on ecology by using innovative and sustainable practices.

One hundred per cent of electricity used is accredited GreenPower, which supports the development of carbon-free electricity generation in Australia.

Business Eco-efficiency Award

Chris Hill (Mater), Charlie Foxall (Carlton and United Breweries), Minister Steven Miles

Chris Hill (Mater), Charlie Foxall (Carlton and United Breweries), Minister Steven Miles

Winner

Mater Misericordiae Ltd – Sustainability at Mater

Despite the challenges of 24/7 operations in the resource-intensive health sector, Mater is leading the way in sustainability initiatives.

The Sustainability at Mater program incorporates over 170 projects, involving thousands of staff and resulting in $3.5 million in savings since 2008.

Sustainable practices are included in all aspects of the organisation – including energy and water use, waste management, procurement, facilities design, stakeholder engagement and transport.

The program has achieved significant results - electricity costs have reduced by more than 17 per cent since 2012; clinical waste has reduced by 185 tonnes per year since 2011; and recycling has increased by more than 140 tonnes since 2010.

Key to the success of the program is staff engagement. More than 3,300 staff members have signed the environmental sustainability pledge. 

Finalist

UnitingCare Queensland – Sustainability Stewardship

Sustainability has become a core element of UnitingCare’s operational practices through significant changes to their habits and culture across the business.

The introduction of hybrid vehicles to their fleet, energy and water efficiency retrofits, along with reviews of energy procurement have established UnitingCare’s position as leaders in eco-efficiency.

UnitingCare Queensland’s commitment to sustainability has resulted in an overall reduction of C02 emissions by more than 700 tonnes in just three years. 

Finalist

Boyne Smelters Ltd – Aluminium recycling

Boyne Smelters Limited recycles around 13 million aluminium cans a month, making it Australia’s largest aluminium can recycling facility.

In addition to the benefits of reducing landfill waste, recycling aluminium is far more efficient than producing it from scratch – requiring only five per cent of the energy used for primary production.

Recycling just one aluminium can saves enough energy to offset a 2 kilometre car trip.

On average, Boyne Smelters Limited is now processing 520 tonnes of scrap aluminium cans and other materials a month.

Community Award

Cr Peter Flannery, Anita Christian (Moreton Bay Regional Council), Geoff Elliott (Queensland Water and Land Carers), Minster Steven Miles

Cr Peter Flannery, Anita Christian (Moreton Bay Regional Council), Geoff Elliott (Queensland Water and Land Carers), Minster Steven Miles

Winner

Moreton Bay Regional Council – Community Waste Minimisation program

Through its annual Waste Education and Engagement Strategy, the Moreton Bay Regional Council actively encourages waste minimisation through best-practice recycling and resource recovery initiatives.

At the heart of the Council’s sustainability program are its partnerships with more than 50 local schools and 30 early learning centres, along with local businesses, community groups and individuals.

The emphasis is on reducing the volume of waste going to landfill and increasing the amount diverted to recycling, with one school reporting a 62 per cent reduction in landfill waste in one year.

Moreton Bay Regional Council also runs community recycling events including presentations, waste facility tours, repurposing and worm farming workshops and organic composting, along with coordinating the local Clean Up Australia Day efforts. 

Finalist

Coolum and North Shore Coast Care – Turtles? What Turtles?

Coolum and North Shore Coast Care is a group of dedicated volunteers, passionate about protecting turtles and their habitats from the Mooloolah River to Noosa.

The volunteers conduct marine debris surveys and collect valuable turtle nesting and stranding data, which is passed on to the Marine Threatened Species Unit within the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

The groups also collaborates with Sealife Mooloolaba and the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit in their efforts to rehabilitate injured or sick sea turtles, attending up to 50 turtle strandings per year and has also helped council staff and rangers to implement a coastal fox control program.

Finalist

Healthy Waterways – Healthy Waterways Programs

Healthy Waterways is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to protect and improve South East Queensland’s waterways.

Healthy Waterways encourages community participation in protecting our waterways through events such as Connect to Your Creek Week.

This annual initiative increases community stewardship of local waterways, through hands-on activities like tree plantings and canoe tours. In 2016, more than 50 events, involving 80 volunteers, were run, reaching over 1000 community participants.

For more than 10 years, Healthy Waterways has also held its annual Awards Program, recognising and rewarding more than 150 individuals, schools and organisations who have devoted their time to protecting and improving our waterways.

Innovation in Sustainable Technologies Award

Karen Fitzgibbon (Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland), Krista and Rob Watkins (Natural Evolution), Minister Steven Miles

Karen Fitzgibbon (Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland), Krista and Rob Watkins (Natural Evolution), Minister Steven Miles

Winner

Natural Evolution – Nutro Lock

In North Queensland, an average of 450 to 500 tonnes of green bananas are wasted each week.

Frustrated at throwing away tonnes of undersized or mishapen bananas because they didn't meet supermarket specifications, Rob and Krista Watkins came up with an innovative and sustainable solution.

Their Natural Evolution’s Nutro Lock process preserves fresh fruits naturally and quickly – in as little as 25 minutes – without the need for additives or preservatives. This preservation process has been key to the production of their popular Banana Flour.

Now, Natural Evolution has the capability to extend the limited shelf-life of any fruit or vegetable – not just bananas – by up to three years, vastly reducing waste outputs.

Finalist

Townsville City Council – Sensor-Q

In an Australian first, Townsville City Council and James Cook University have developed a low-cost remote water quality monitoring system, called Sensor-Q. 

Combining cutting edge sensor technology, telemetry and analytical systems, Sensor-Q assists in the maintenance of local waterways, stormwater treatment and potable water management. 

This ground-breaking technology provides an ability to monitor water quality in real-time, using low power and low cost sensors and radio technology. 

In the future, the system will be instrumental in revolutionising the way local governments manage waterways, stormwater treatment assets and potable water supply. 

Finalist

Closed Loop Organics – Environmental Solutions  

Food waste sent to landfill doesn’t compost, it rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas which is far more potent than CO2.

To combat this issue, Closed Loop Organics process food waste at the point of generation, achieving waste reductions of 80 to 90 per cent.

The food scraps are turned into a valuable, nutrient-rich fertiliser suitable for growing the next crop of food.

This innovative technology has been adopted by organisations in a broad range of industries including mining, tertiary education, local government, tourism, hospitality, food wholesaling and retail.

Rural Award

Trevor Cook, Hywel Cook, Alan Cross, Isaac Schmidt and Andrew Dougall (MSF Sugar representatives), Peter Thompson (Nugrow)

Trevor Cook, Hywel Cook, Alan Cross, Isaac Schmidt and Andrew Dougall (MSF Sugar representatives), Peter Thompson (Nugrow)

Winner

MSF Sugar – Sustainability in modern farming practices 

MSF Sugar is Queensland’s largest sugar cane farmer with operations in the Wide Bay and Cairns regions and recently launched an innovative sustainability system called Modern Farming.

Modern Farming draws together best practice technology into a package of farming techniques which aim to reduce water and fertiliser volumes, re-use mill wastes, improve yields and save money.

The initiative is linked to the company’s decision to achieve Smartcane Best Management Practice accreditation for all of its properties.

MSF Sugar has also exported Modern Farming to its Thailand-based owners, Mitr Phol [phon: “mitt pol”], the fourth largest sugar producer in the world, to deliver improved farming techniques, yields and environmental performance for its operations in Thailand, Laos and China. 

Finalist

Mt Alma Fresh Organics - Restoring ecological function of coastal wetlands

Based in the Lower Burdekin region of north Queensland, Gary and Angela Spotswood are strongly committed to sustainable production, restoring their land, coastal wetlands and ultimately contributing to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

On 465 hectares of land, the Spotswood family combine sugarcane, cattle, horticulture and grain crops. The family is leading the way by participating in natural resource management projects that have drastically reduced the property’s impact on local wetlands and waterways.

One of their greatest successes is restoring Mt Alma’s 100 hectare lagoon, which has welcomed the return of native wildlife, including waterbirds migrating from the northern hemisphere.

As third generation producers, the Spotswoods also have organic certification for their cattle, fruit and vegetables, and part of the sugarcane crop. 

Finalist

Skybury Tropical Plantation – Sustainability Program

Ian MacLaughlin, owner of Skybury Tropical Plantation, actively promotes farming innovation, complementing agricultural production with a healthy respect for the natural environment.

Over the last 30 years, Skybury has evolved into a market leader for tropical foods.

The 162 hectare property near Mareeba sits between the major catchments of the Barron and Mitchell rivers, and not far from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Ian holds the belief that if his farm has the means to achieve sustainable agriculture, then without question it should be done and in 2015 established the Skybury Environmental Research Centre.

Skybury achieves sustainable agriculture by optimising land, water and fertiliser use, recycling organic waste, re-using run off water and controlling nutrient run off.

Small Business Award

Cassie Fitton, Toni Brennan, Rob Archibald (Fun Over Fifty), Rebecca Andrews (The Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games), Minister Steven Miles

Cassie Fitton, Toni Brennan, Rob Archibald (Fun Over Fifty), Rebecca Andrews (The Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games), Minister Steven Miles

Winner

Fun over fifty – Being seen, Being green

Fun Over Fifty is a multi-award winning travel company for the 50-plus market, with a mission to be the most sustainable tour operator in Australia. 

Sustainability practices are embedded in all levels of the business, with an emphasis on – reduce, reuse and recycle – to increase environmental efficiency and improve the guest experience.

With 27 Tourism Australia Eco Certified tours on offer, travellers with Fun Over Fifty can gain a greater appreciation of our unique natural wonders. All suppliers are selected based on their commitment to the environment. 

A Green Guest option is also available to passengers, offering a reduced daily room fee for those who choose not to have their rooms serviced. 

Finalist

Childers Eco-lodge – Sustainable living

Childers Eco-lodge offers sustainable accommodation for budget-conscious travellers.

Set on 28 acres in the unique Australian bush, Eco-lodge

educates guests on sustainable living practices while helping them discover the wide variety of quality tourism activities in the area.

Facilities have been designed and purpose-built to incorporate a range of sustainability features including solar power, waterless toilets, onsite greywater treatment, water collection and water saving devices, along with energy efficient design elements.

Wherever possible, building materials for projects at the Eco-lodge are upcycled or reused to further reduce environmental impacts. 

Finalist

Eco Essence Homes – Sustainable business practices

Eco Essence Homes believes there’s more to building an environmentally sustainable home than just using the right products and the best design.

On average, 20 crushed cubic metres of solid waste are generated during the construction of any home – even sustainable ones.

This is why Eco Essence Homes has developed Stewardship Agreements with suppliers and provides designated recycling skip bins on every building site.

Since implementing these measures in 2011, Eco Essence Homes estimates to have saved over 1000 cubic tonnes of solid waste going to landfill.

Sustainability in Education Award

Staff  from Junction Park State School, Prof. John Cole (University of Southern Queensland)

Staff from Junction Park State School, Prof. John Cole (University of Southern Queensland)

Winner

Junction Park State School – Unlocking our environment and heritage

With Junction Park State School recently listed on the Queensland Heritage register, programs to explore the school’s traditions and environment have become core elements of the curriculum.

Waste reduction practices are taught to students in every year level and the school offers unique opportunities to engage with the community to promote sustainability.

In partnership with Woolworths Annerley, the school has implemented a soft-plastics recycling program – resulting in a 1400 per cent increase in the amount recycled.

The school has also made the switch to electronic communications by emailing newsletters, invoices and report cards to families instead of sending hard copies, resulting in a huge reduction in paper use and printing costs. 

Finalist

Tinana State School – Future leaders in the community

Tinana is a Five Star Cleaner Greener School, with a strong school-wide sustainability ethos and real commitment to reducing its environmental footprint in the school grounds and beyond.

The school actively seeks opportunities to develop community partnerships so students can have a positive impact on the world, starting in their own community.

By working with partner groups and businesses on strategies for a sustainable future, the school’s students are developing the knowledge, actions and commitment of future minded citizens.

Tinana is also part of Eco Schools Australia and is currently working towards a national level of accreditation. 

Finalist

Peregian Springs State School – Spring into action

Since opening in 2010, environmental and sustainability education programs have been at the forefront of the curriculum at Peregian Springs State School.

Located in an environmentally diverse and sensitive region, between Coolum and Noosa, students and staff work together to protect and enhance the natural amenity and local species in the area. 

The school’s environmental focus commenced with the formation of an Earth Smart staff team in 2010.

Growing from strength to strength, the school now offers a range of programs and partnerships with outside agencies, to educate over 960 students and their families.

Sustainable Heritage Award

Prof. Peter Coaldrake (Queensland Heritage Council), Brad Cordery (QLD Anzac Centenary Program), Councillor Norm Wyndham (Brisbane City Council), Minister Mark Bailey, Megan Jones (Tanner Kibble Denton Architects)

Prof. Peter Coaldrake (Queensland Heritage Council), Brad Cordery (QLD Anzac Centenary Program), Councillor Norm Wyndham (Brisbane City Council), Minister Mark Bailey, Megan Jones (Tanner Kibble Denton Architects)

Winner

Brisbane City Council, Queensland Anzac Centenary Coordination Unit and Tanner Kibble Denton Architects - Anzac Square restoration

The 85-year old, State heritage-listed Anzac Square in Brisbane’s CBD, has been respectfully conserved to ensure its cultural significance is protected for future generations.

A joint initiative by Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government, the restoration project focussed on rectifying structural defects and damage from water infiltration.

Materials were carefully selected for their environmental qualities, durability and compatibility with the original design.

The project also incorporated the innovative use of interactive videos, screens and story-telling panels to enhance the visitor experience.

These substantial upgrades have helped to maintain the legacy of Queensland men and women who have served in war, conflict and peace-keeping efforts around the world. 

Finalist

Hayes Anderson Lynch Architects – Bakery Lane

A once forgotten laneway in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has been transformed into a vibrant hub and new home for creative small businesses.

The Bakery Lane redevelopment, by Hayes Anderson Lynch Architects, showcases sustainable design practices by re-vitalising a previously untapped space in an urban environment, without the need for demolition or new infrastructure.

The locally heritage-listed buildings occupying the laneway now have the multi-faceted ability to provide commercial and residential use within the same tenancy, whilst preserving the historical integrity of the buildings.

This innovative project sets the bar for future community development projects in the area, in terms of re-purposing heritage places into new and exciting commercially viable precincts. 

Finalist

City Parklands Services – Victoria Bridge restoration

The State heritage-listed Victoria Bridge Abutment across the Brisbane River had been closed to the public since 1998 due to safety concerns.

City Parklands Services has reinvigorated this historic landmark, through the development of a freestanding walkway connection, encouraging public interaction, engagement and understanding of its heritage value.

The project reused existing resources, minimising the consumption of raw materials and increasing energy efficiency with LED lighting.

The project has also incorporated interpretive signage and accent lighting to enhance visitor experience and promote the memorial as a key attraction on the Queensland heritage trail.

Young Achiever's Award

Prof. Carol Dickenson (Queensland University of Technology), Jacob Welch (Teys Australia), Bindi Irwin (2015 Young Achievers award winner),  Minister Mark Bailey

Prof. Carol Dickenson (Queensland University of Technology), Jacob Welch (Teys Australia), Bindi Irwin (2015 Young Achievers award winner), Minister Mark Bailey

Winner

Jacob Welch – Teys Australia

Over the past three years, environmental officer Jacob Welch has been involved in the design, construction and commissioning of a state of the art wastewater system and renewable energy project at Teys Australia’s Beenleigh Facility.

The $12 million project delivers significantly improved water quality along with renewable biogas energy.

The amount of renewable energy generated on site is equivalent to the natural gas consumption of 423 homes per annum. The project also reduces the facility’s carbon emissions by 33,100 tonnes per year.

Jacob’s team has delivered resource efficiency projects resulting in a 40 per cent saving in water, a 43 per cent reduction in use of natural gas, and six per cent reduction in energy use.

Finalist

Mikala Maloney – GenYadaba Group

Mikala Maloney is leading the charge on environmental activities on the Capricorn Coast as part of the GenYadaba Group.

Her efforts have helped to restore North Keppel Island with the removal of weeds, management of erosion and revegetation of degraded areas.

Mikala and her colleague Morgan Ells have initiated programs to encourage young people to take part in conservation and cross cultural awareness raising activities by mixing fun and physical challenges with environmental work – including orienteering races that combine native plant identification, as well as kayaking and reef assessment snorkelling.

Mikala leads and inspires others in the group to contribute and engage with the community to advocate for local and global environmental issues. 

Finalist

Sienna Harris – Griffith Sciences: A sustainability leader of the future

Sienna Harris is passionate about encouraging young people to care for the environment and has been demonstrating her commitment to conservation since 11 years of age, through her volunteer work with CoastCare Australia.

Sienna has continued this advocacy through her role as a student representative and liaison on the Griffith Sciences Sustainability Committee.

During this time, she has successfully facilitated the introduction of sustainability programs at the university and led student groups to help regenerate forests and beaches.

Her involvement with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition has also secured grant funding to attract young people from around Australia to participate in the development of improved environmental and renewable energy policies.

Last updated
8 December 2016