Who are the people behind Canberra’s most sustainable community? This week we meet Jessica Stewart, Ginninderry’s Sustainability Manager.
Jess is responsible for Ginninderry’s Green Star Communities rating, including all reporting and research required to uphold Ginninderry’s Project Vision. You’ll also see Jess providing sustainability education to our residents, builders and the development industry. Her role is diverse and has included everything from turtle cleaning and indoor gardening to hosting tours, public speaking, writing bus timetables and presenting cooking demonstrations.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve been a Canberra local (Belco Pride!) for the last 22 years after moving from Queensland with my family at the start of Year 10. I studied Engineering and Science at the ANU majoring in Materials and Mechanics, Renewable Energy Systems, Sustainability Science and Science Communication. After leaving Uni, I worked for a number of years for an energy assessor, travelling around to homes, businesses and schools teaching people how to save money on their energy and water bills. I then worked for the ACT Government in Sustainability and Innovation which led me to Ginninderry. I was only supposed to be on secondment for 6 months… that was 6 years ago!
I’m really interested in building strong, resilient communities and exploring the reasons why people love (and hate) the places that they live, work and play.
What does your role bring to the Ginninderry project?
Ginninderry is such a unique project to work on. I will be 70 when the project is complete in the year 2055! For me, this gives me a huge opportunity to lift the bar for the building industry and to deliver healthier, kinder, more resilient communities. As someone who has been on the project since its early days (2015), it’s been incredibly exciting to watch Ginninderry establish and grow as a community. I hope to be able to share the knowledge that I’ve gained by working on this project with our new residents – to pass them the baton to living in a sustainable community.
As sustainability manager my role also includes ensuring that past knowledge is passed on through time – so that we learn from the work of others, from those who have lived and cared for Ginninderry before us, and to share knowledge from other exemplar projects. I hope my role means that we don’t re-create the wheel, that we can be an example for others to follow and that we can learn from those around us.
A fun fact?
Sustainability Manager by day, musician by night! I play a lot of musical instruments. A lot. I have travelled the world playing in various concert bands, choirs and groups. I have played in Ghana, Burkina Faso, France, Germany, New Zealand, Ireland, UK and Japan.
I was a piano teacher for many years through my teens and twenties, following after my mum who was also a piano teacher throughout my childhood. The most random of the instruments I play are probably the bass clarinet and the dundun (which is actually a set of three West African bass drums).
During the COVID lockdowns, I taught myself how to crochet. It’s definitely become a bit of an obsession of mine! I’ve crocheted blankets, dinosaurs, tractors, cockatoos, Christmas baubles, gnomes, cows and even a bat!