Shaping our city

Building a more sustainable city

23 March 2023

Meet your City of Melbourne councillors 

Councillor Elizabeth Mary Doidge 

The hard hats and high-vis building sector is where Councillor Elizabeth Mary Doidge finds her best fit. As lead councillor for the sustainable buildings portfolio, she is intent on sharing knowledge about better environmental performance with as many building owners as she can reach. 

“It’s incredibly important for City of Melbourne to be a leader in this field,” Cr Doidge said.  

“We have big ambitions for achieving net zero emissions and 2040 is our goal.

“When reflecting on the fact that 66 per cent of the city’s carbon emissions come from the operation of existing buildings, we cannot meet our emissions reduction targets without some serious innovation in climate action, particularly in the building sector.”

Cr Doidge said partnerships with private building owners work best through a lot of listening and learning together. 

“I find some stakeholders are 100 per cent behind what we’re doing, trying to help drive innovation with us and on their own. Some developers are building world-class buildings. Others are looking at upgrading existing buildings for even better environmental performance and better health and wellbeing for those who live and work in those buildings. 

“There are also many commercial benefits to having a building with a strong environmental performance.

We’ve had asset managers and real estate agents holding forums with us where they showcase to other property owners how they can increase the value of their properties if they invest in upgrades.” 

At the City of Melbourne, we are hosting ongoing discussions – with owners, managers, investors, tenants, designers and engineers – to explore all aspects of sustainable design; from retrofitting existing buildings to zero carbon construction and the Power Melbourne battery network project. 

“We’re talking about getting off gas, electrifying buildings and making sure that energy comes from renewable sources, whether through power purchase agreements or onsite energy generation, such as solar,” Cr Doidge said. 

In the wake of COVID, she was closely involved in the BREATH project. Led by City of Melbourne, this research project explored how ventilation systems could help workers feel more safe when they returned to city workplaces. 

The results indicated that it was indeed possible to retrofit the existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems of older office buildings to not only reduce COVID transmission risk, but to improve energy performance too.  

“BREATH was such an important project and I really want to make sure we’re doing everything to keep that project in the minds of building owners and the property sector,” Cr Doidge said. 

A person in a dark room squeezing a bottle filled with air that is illuminated green
Research from our BREATH project shows that improving the health of office buildings is one way to encourage city workers to return

As a new councillor elected in 2020, she said the sustainable buildings portfolio was a good match for her.  

“When I’m not at council I work in the construction sector and lead policy and advocacy campaigns, and environmental policy is important to me.” 

Born in Melbourne, Cr Doidge said she feels she’d never live anywhere else.  

“My grandfather was once the station master at Flinders Street station. I’ve spent my entire life coming into this city. On Sundays we’d dress up, come into the city on the tram and I’d go to Myer with my nanna, that was important to me. 

“I studied three degrees in Melbourne and I’ve always worked in the city.  So when the opportunity came up to play a role not only in shaping the city’s future but also in contributing to the everyday operations, I thought I’d be silly not to have a shot at that.” 

Asked what she’s most proud of in the past two years, she said it’s council’s role in “driving very ambitious policy ideas around sustainable buildings”. 

“That follows on from the work the previous councillors did with the proposed C376 sustainable design planning amendment.” 

She acknowledges that while Melbourne’s recovery is well underway, some areas still need support – and upgraded workplaces can play a role in encouraging people to rethink where they want to work. 

“I want to see workers return to the city and there is a lot of opportunity through the sustainable buildings portfolio to produce workplaces that attract them. That goes back to the BREATH project,” she said. 

“The research showed really important opportunities to improve air quality and improve the health and wellbeing of people in an office space.”

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