global perspectives

Building towards better: How the built environment sector can get started with nature

02 May 2024 / WORDS BY Sophie St John

“We can decarbonise but we can’t de-nature. We will always depend on and impact nature to some degree, so we can’t walk away from nature, we have to walk towards it.”

-Tony Goldner


The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and Pollination recently hosted a roundtable for senior leaders in the built environment sector, giving them the opportunity to join in discussion with Tony Goldner, Executive Director of the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD).

This is an important conversation and one that needs to be happening now. Financial implications of nature risk are already being felt by corporations across the sector, and investors are already asking questions.

The TNFD provides a robust framework for disclosing nature-related risks and impacts, with the LEAP assessment method a key step for understanding where risks and opportunities occur within an organisation’s value chain.

All of this new information can feel like an extra imposition of obligations and complexity, on top of what companies must already do around climate and sustainability. The message emerging from the roundtable is that the opposite is true: Forward-looking companies are grasping that the TNFD is a tool that is helpful in getting started with nature, rather than an additional compliance burden or barrier to be overcome.

“You don’t have to do all 14 TNFD disclosure metrics with perfect data right now,” Tony told those present. “It’s a journey, and it’s about getting started”.

Natural advantages

The built environment is at an advantage for getting started because the sector often has access to good place-based knowledge of real assets on the ground, and also often has an understanding of nature impacts acquired through environmental approvals processes. However, leaders across the industry agreed that there is less visibility when it comes to their supply chains. Working together, and across sectors to understand nature-related impacts and risks in materials in the supply chain will be an integral step in the built environment’s nature journey.

This is a message shared by built environment leaders, echoed in GBCA’s recently released ‘Nature Roadmap for the Built Environment Discussion Paper’, and acknowledged by the TNFD which is presently working on a ‘data wallet’ that will help to understand nature-related impacts within supply chains, including building materials. TNFD built environment sector guidance to be released in June will also provide more clarity to the sector.

Materials aren’t the only thing the built environment depends on, nor is this the only place in the value chain where impacts occur. The sector and its companies also depend on nature for the provision of water, and essential services such as storm and coastal protection, visual amenity, and noise attenuation. The sector impacts on nature through its everyday practices, including deforestation and habitat modification, resource extraction and depletion, and pollution.

Developing opportunities

Whilst these challenges are real and ongoing, there is also immense opportunity for the built environment in Australia. The sector is uniquely placed to pioneer as a leader for nature, given the access most players have to areas of land as part of their core business activities. There are a rich variety of opportunities to be explored across nature restoration, nature-based design, nature-based carbon projects, biophilic design, and biomimicry. The companies that reap the benefit from those opportunities will be the ones that get started now, rather than waiting for perfect future conditions to arise.


If you’d like to have a conversation with one of Pollination’s built environment experts contact

For more information on contributing towards a nature-positive built environment see:

Pollination: Building the base for nature positive across the built environment:

GBCA Discussion Paper: A Nature Roadmap for the Built Environment


May 2, 2024

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