Greener Spaces Better Places: How to get development buy-in for more green spaces

Greener Spaces Better Places (202020 Vision)

Nature strips, urban canopy or pocket parks – they’re desirable to most people. But ensuring they become part of urban life requires collaboration and clear guidelines.

The Green Building Council of Australia and collaborative impact initiative Greener Spaces Better Places (previously 202020 Vision) have teamed up to produce What’s The Story – a guide to helping people working in the built environment influence more liveable outcomes.

“Plants and trees,” it begins, “They can make a development amazing, but it’s not as easy as just designing them in. You need to bring all your stakeholders along on the journey.”

This guide uses real world examples to outline the barriers you may come across and show how some “green” developments solved these challenges, by knowing how to tell the right story in the right way.

Its findings are based on four pieces of research:

  • A survey of nearly 250 employees from different organisations
  • Another survey of over 1600 community members across Australia
  • An analysis of 120 council greening strategies
  • An analysis of 60 news stories from across the country

From these studies the guide has concluded the best way to speak to different stakeholders by using the most appropriate language and highlighting the most relevant benefits of green development.

Using the right language

Understanding the audience you want to communicate with is the first step to engaging them effectively, the guide explains.

It’s simple. Talk to people in language they understand about the benefits they most value.”

“It’s simple. Talk to people in language they understand about the benefits they most value.”

This means understanding, for example, that community members are far more likely to appreciate everyday terms such as “nature strip” and “street tree” as opposed to industry terms like “pocket parks” and “urban forest”.

Similarly, while people within the built environment sector may lean into terms such as “liveability” and “cooling,” the media is far more likely to appreciate simple terminology such as “health and wellbeing”.

Identifying these kinds of language preferences, the guide concludes, will then help you tell the story in the right way.

Burwood Brickworks, Melbourne

Tell the right story

“Now you’ve considered how your audience thinks and talks,” the guide says, “it’s time to create a narrative that helps them understand your goals and brings them along as a supporter.”

To help readers get a feel for the storytelling process, the guide goes on to offer seven case studies covering the goals, challenges and outcomes of real developments that successfully incorporated green spaces and sustainable building practices.

These include the Art Gallery of NSW’s expansion, the Burwood Brickworks retail development and the 800 home Fairwater Blacktown development.

Each case study offers interesting insights such as the value of walking your team through a building site to appreciate the necessity of green spaces, and the way packaging green spaces as “great lifestyle choices” can help sell them to potential residents.

This research makes clear that even though community members, developers and regulators might be using different words and jargon, we are all focused on the same goal.”

“We all benefit from a sustainable built environment,” chief executive officer of GBCA, Davina Rooney says. “This research makes clear that even though community members, developers and regulators might be using different words and jargon, we are all focused on the same goal.”

Read the guide for yourself to find out more

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Greener Spaces Better Places

Government | Australia