Prasanna is the Perth Section Manager for the Sustainability team and a Principal of WGE. He is passionate about the construction industry and advocates for it to take a more conscientious and dedicated approach to sustainability.
‘I think there are many people in this industry that use the sustainability angle as a green washing or marketing exercise without really taking it seriously and advising wisely,’ says Prasanna who has been working in the division since 2006.
After graduating as a mechanical engineerand working for two years at WGE, Prasanna took the opportunity to work under the leadership of Bruce van Rooyen to set up the sustainability section. Since then Prasanna and his team have undergone significant training and involvement with organisations such as the Green building Council of Australia (GBCA), the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) and the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) to ensure they are up to date onthe latest sustainability innovations. They have now grown this small division to $1.2m+ net revenue pa.
‘Providing creative solutions to sustainability outcomes is a real art. Many companies attempt to bolt on solutions, which can in fact, cost them more in the long run. On every project we carefully balance the economical and financial needs with the sustainability and performance rating needs. Our clients tell us that the approach we take is very unique,’ says Prasanna.
Bret White from Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland is one client that holds such an opinion saying WGE, “approach sustainability with a rich blend of rationale and sensitivity.Working alongside the architects, they perceptively tailor the key ESD strategies for each project and then sculpture a hierarchy of the supporting requirements and deliverables. This detailed focus is then coordinated with all consultancies and contractors, providing clarity and certainty between vision and outcome.”
The WGE team does more than just deliver on the job and then leave the client to it. They continue to keep track of, and report on, the sustainability and financial outcomes and provide a high degree of consultation and advice long after each project is completed.
‘We’re often integral to the ongoing decision-‐making and can really save clients money on the project over the long term. For example, we’ve been managing and advising on the Wellington Central project for over six years. During the design process they had a target of a 4.5 star NABERS rating however we predicted that they could perform at 5.2 stars. After the project was finished we analysed their operational data which achieved 5 stars. Since that first year we’ve taken them from a 5 to a 5.5 rating without any significant additional costs,’ says Prasanna proudly.
Another project that has demonstrated WGE’s ability to provide creative sustainability solutions is the Blackwoods store in Karratha, a northwest town of WA. Blackwoods is a large industrial store for tradesmen and is a subsidiary of Wesfarmers. WGE were consulted in the design process of their industrial warehouse.
‘They wanted to achieve a high sustainability outcome which was unique to the region and building type. As well as targeting a Green Star rating our recommendation included solar power generation that would supplement the grid electricity with clean free renewable energy. At the time the power authorities and various other contractors and consultants were of the opinion that the size and scale of the solar array should not be allowed to be built in that location. We persisted because we knew it could be done and we worked with the power authority and found suppliers and contractors that could deliver. The outcome was a 40KW solar array when anything greater than 5KW is usually not achievable for a private entity,’ says Prasanna.
The WGE sustainability team recognised the uniqueness of this project and the real opportunity to drastically reduce energy consumption related to lighting in the warehouse. They put in place measures to minimize this and have significantly reduced costs compared to the overall baseline, reducing energy consumption by more than 85%.
‘We’re good at making predictions and verifying them and have a high degree of confidence in them. A key part of our work is supporting clients in their risk management and ensuring they achieve the outcomes and ratings they need,’ says Prasanna.
WGE has recognised Prasanna’s skills and abilities by making him a principal of the firm and providing him with ongoing mentoring. He is active with many leading industry bodies including the Property Council of Australia’s Sustainability committee and the GBCA. Outside of work Prasanna is busy with his wife, three children and sailing.
‘Here at WGE recognition and reward goes to the high performers. I can’t speak highly enough of the mentoring program we have here. I’ve been fortunate to be mentored by a passionate group of senior managers and because of this our clients get the best from my team and me’ ends Prasanna.