How would you define ethical, community-focused development and what do you think is driving this trend in Australia’s property market??

Ethical and community-focused development takes the wellbeing of people and planet into consideration, rather than just focusing on profits. We know that buildings that are built with toxic materials and finishes are unhealthy for the tradespeople creating the building, for the people who will inhabit the building, and for the earth that the building stands on— we simply cannot continue to build like this.

We also know that modern society is driving people apart, promoting individualism and disconnection at the expense of deep connection and a sense of community— bad design restricts us from communicating with our neighbours and fellow citizens, while great design can encourage us to come together.

I think this trend is really being driven by a communal desire in Australia to become more connected to our planet and to each other. We’re experiencing an exciting shift in consumer behaviour right now where more and more people are asking ‘Where was this made? How was it made? Was the maker paid fairly?’— it was only a matter of time before we all started asking these questions about the buildings we live and work in every day.

As a company, how do Small Giants Developments use the built environment to contribute to the world in a meaningful way??

We believe all businesses should use their craft and their services to contribute a positive impact to our world, no matter what industry they’re in. Our craft is building, so this is our tool for creating positive change in our world.

Small Giants Developments is the property development arm of The Sociable Weaver Group. Our other three businesses, The Sociable Weaver, Martin Builders and The Nest Workshop, focus on creating positive change across design and building, construction, and joinery respectively.

As Small Giants Developments we create spaces and places that bring people together, that restore our minds and our souls, that are healthy to live and work in, and that are built as environmentally sustainable as possible.

These values inform everything we do, from how we design the spaces, to how we build them, to how we sell them, and to how we interact with the local community.

Property developers, rightfully, have a terrible reputation. We’re here to say that property development CAN be done in a way that is respectful of people and planet, and we’re showing how that is done. This has to be the new norm.

Why do you think Australians are increasingly wanting to live in ethically-focused developments?

We’re incredibly lucky to live in a country that is abundant with stunning natural landscapes, but with this comes the reality that these landscapes are being negatively impacted by global and local development.

And while our air and water is relatively clean compared to other parts of the world, there’s no denying that we’re all starting to witness the effects of climate change.

I think if you’re even just slightly paying attention to the world around you, then you begin to want to spend your money on things that won’t create further damage.

Of course, this may not be the norm in our society yet, but more and more people are wanting to use their wallet to vote for the world they want to live in, and the world they want to leave behind for future generations.

In your opinion, what are the challenges and opportunities when it comes to delivering these kinds of projects?

There are challenges with any project, ethical and environmentally sustainable or not, but when you set out to create something that adds positive value to the world, you hold yourself to some very high standards.

At every step along the way, we need to repeatedly ask ourselves ‘Is this the right thing to do for the planet? Is this the right thing to do for this community?’— perhaps if we didn’t care, then we could make decisions faster, but we do care and need to hold ourselves to account.

You also need to realise that something we choose to do today, may not be the way we do things in the future. New technologies and materials are constantly being developed that change the way we look at sustainable construction, so we can’t just settle on one way of doing things and stick to it for years to come.

Every project will be a new process in asking ourselves those core questions all over again. That said, if we can create spaces that truly encourage connection to nature, to people and to ourselves, then it is all worth it.

We are the ancestors of our future grand children, do we want them to look back in horror at how we built the world, or do we want to set an example of how things can be done the right way? That is the biggest opportunity.


Dave Martin will speak on the rise of ethical property development at our upcoming CC Summit Series panel event on Thursday 19 April. Admission is from 6.30pm and the panel will begin at 7pm. Light refreshments will be provided. Tickets can be purchased here.

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