Meet the members – Arne Hansen
What is your business?
I operate two businesses – the main one being Buildings Evolved and the other Bello Hive, The first is a sustainability consultancy focusing on the built environment established in 2014 and the latter is a co-working space on the main street of Bellingen (below Qudo) established late last year.
Buildings consume 30% of all energy consumption, and constitutes over 50% of electricity demand alone. Realising the scale of the challenge associated with climate change, the business was established to provide high-level technology strategies for building optimisation and energy reduction to large portfolios of properties both in the government and private sector.Bello Hive was established in October 2019 as a co-working space for the town. Buildings Evolved are permanent tenants of Bello Hive, along with other part time members and many visitors. The primary purpose of the space is to reduce travel and associated carbon footprint, and as such features professional video conferencing in a private meeting room alongside two pods of 4 desks each.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
The pandemic has had dramatic effects on the businesses. While our consultancy work is usually from diverse sources, the only one that has remained steady or increasing is the government sector. Unsurprisingly, the property trust and education sector have been gutted by the crisis, and so their spending has largely ceased. We have also had to do a huge amount of paperwork, planning and compliance over and above normal business, and so we have not really been on the front foot like we had hoped in 2020. There has also been a lot of lobbying of politicians and government to get access to grants and other funding available to impacted communities from the bushfire crisis, consuming more time again. The co-working space was rocked by the impact of bushfire smoke shortly after it opened, and when that crisis ceased, COVID struck, necessitating a shutdown of the office, just as we were building momentum. We have now re-opened, but with less demand and an uncertain future. All that said, we are optimistic for the future and have some great projects underway with ARENA, the CSIRO and NSW Schools. The silver lining is that we have been able to accelerate other projects and invest more time into improving the capabilities of equipment and staff.
What prompted you to join the Chamber?
I joined the board because I turned up to the AGM and got nominated. True story. I joined the Chamber because I felt that, at the time, operating a business at home made for isolation and disconnection. The Chamber has provided connection and broken the isolation. Along with meeting great people, it has allowed me to better understand the community and use that knowledge to advocate for the interests of fellow business owners and their employees to all levels of government. As Treasurer since June, I have worked to update our membership database and institute a new accounting system in time for June 30 – and in doing so review internal processes to reduce duplication and improve responsiveness.