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In the race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the City of Melbourne has an ambitious goal to reach zero net emissions by 2020.

Within the City of Melbourne, one of the major barriers to zero emissions is mid-tier commercial buildings. With many owners in the one building, low levels of accountability and high costs of making change, the City of Melbourne needed to better understand how to win the hearts and minds of mid-tier commercial building owners.

The brief

The City of Melbourne approached us to prototype effective ways to influence these building owners to improve the sustainable performance of their buildings. The aim was to find a way to link existing internal programs for sustainability with building owners in a way they would find most relevant.


This began with human-centric research to understand the sector’s unique needs and drivers, looking wide for innovative solutions, before narrowing the focus to prototype and test concepts.

The council had already conducted a lot of research into the sector but hadn’t yet engaged directly with building owners.


Once we had conducted a series of 1:1 interviews, our synthesis uncovered a set of insights and intervention ideas that became the basis for prototyping.

We worked collaboratively with the City of Melbourne to prioritise concepts before fleshing out the most influential idea for the sector.

The Holistic Council Service

Through this process we developed the Holistic Council Service, a service that offers commercial building owners a relationship manager to act as their direct contact to the council.

To strengthen and test the concept we carried out three rounds of iterative prototyping with six building owners. This enabled us to deliver tangible results within a short time frame in front of the people who will use and interact with the final product.

Our final deliverable was a document that contained new and critical avenues for the City of Melbourne to engage with their target audience as well as more effective channels to share and communicate council programs, educational tools and information.

The City of Melbourne will pilot and roll out the concepts over a period of months in a bid to have better performing buildings and more engaged and educated building owners.