Green governance is the key to achieving sustainable outcomes in aged care according to an industry sustainability expert.

IRT’s Sustainability Manager, Andrew De Montemas told the Aged and Community Services Association of NSW and ACT State Conference that sustainable initiatives need to be driven from the top.

“I think [governance] is probably the most important pillar of sustainability,” he said.

“The high level strategic direction set by the management and the board really set the agenda for the rest of the organisation.”

Mr De Montemas urged aged care groups to create sustainability visions, while setting and implementing goals for energy, water and waste reduction.

He said sustainable measures should be included in all aspects of an aged care business, from key performance indicators to position descriptions.

“Sustainability is the single largest change process that an organisation will probably go through,” he said.

“It permeates through all areas of business operations. It is not the responsibility of a single individual but rather it’s the responsibility of everybody, particularly the board and management.”

Mr De Montemas said aged care operators need to work with governments to improve their environmental footprint by taking advantage of the numerous grants and rebate programs on offer.

He also said it was crucial to engage with self-care residents on sustainable issues.

“What I’m trying to do is to get them involved in sustainability by demonstrating the benefits of a sustainable approach.

“I’m trying to get them to demand sustainable management so that it becomes normal to see rainwater tanks and even worm farms in retirement villages.”

Matthew Greene from Paynter Dixon told the conference that there can be strong financial incentives for adopting a green outlook.

“I’ve had plenty of facility managers say to me over the years that they just want to save money,” he said.

“They say, ‘We want to cut their water and electricity costs and if that helps the environment in the process, that’s a bonus’.”

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