Revisiting: FM Innovation Awards Overall Winner

by Tiffany Paczek
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Back in April, FM Media launched its inaugural FM Innovation Awards, recognising and celebrating ground-breaking projects within the Australian facilities management industry. The grand prize of the night, the overall winner of the awards, was awarded to South Melbourne Market for its Innovation for Sustainability project, delivered by SUMS Group.

South Melbourne Market’s vision was to create a unique ‘village market’ combining sustainability, community and efficiency in operation. The market’s facilities management team, led by Adam Mehegan, has shown extraordinary commitment to environmental and economic sustainability throughout the year, and were deservedly nominated by SUMS.

South Melbourne Market (SMM) is one of Port Phillip’s major community meeting spaces and attracts five million visitors annually. It has been in the same location since 1867, and part of its challenge was to adapt to its changing commercial requirements while retaining the old-world charm of the facility. As such a prominent and visible part of the community, it is important for SMM to demonstrate sustainable leadership – which is from where it’s (now award-winning!) project stemmed. The FM team successfully introduced sustainable practices including recycling, food rescue, waste management and water monitoring, which have had and will have far-reaching economic, social and environmental impacts. They worked towards a model of community-led sustainability, inspiring and challenging suppliers, store holders, staff and customers.

The FM team, with Mehegan at the helm, achieved the following outcomes as part of the Innovation for Sustainability project:

    • 400 cubic metres of green waste taken to work farms, reducing green waste by 98 percent
    • Gaia recycling units reduced organic, non-green waste by 75 percent, thereby diverting 430 tonnes of waste from landfill
    • 100 percent of SMM’s glass (15,000 kilograms) was crushed onsite for recycling, delivering a reduction in carbon emissions equivalent to driving 31,000 kilometres
    • 10,800 litres of oil was collected for conversion into bio-diesel
    • Polystyrene compacted on-site, reducing the volume by 98 percent and reducing the frequency of collection from three times per fortnight to once a month
    • 1000 kilograms of oyster shells collected every week and returned to the ocean to help rebuild reefs
    • florists connected to rainwater so watering occurs without the use of potable water
    • donations of 23,979 kilograms of fresh food to SecondBite, providing 50,000 meals for those in need, and
    • three new water stations ere introduced, where water is monitored and usage calculated.

By investing in these sustainability initiatives, SMM has been able to create long-term sustainability plans, build environmental awareness in the community, drive demand for resource savings and increase efficiencies in market operations with economic and environmental improvements.

A spokesperson for SUMS Group says, “The team has shown an extraordinary commitment to sustainability, weaving sustainable practices into daily life at SMM. We congratulate them on their environmental leadership, innovation and achievements through 2016-17.”

This remarkable innovation at SMM saw it take home the FM Innovation Awards for both Hospitality and Overall Winner. Operations coordinator Mehegan says, “I’m actually chuffed just being nominated, everything else is a bonus. To win the Hospitality Award was fantastic. I was completely unaware that there was actually an Overall Award, and to win that was a massive bonus. And it’s a credit to working with and collaborating with people like SUMS and our other waste companies, but also to having that really good team that gets on board and shares ideas and helps implement the ideas.

“We’ve been doing some really good things at South Melbourne Market, we’re leading by example and that’s something we can [all] aspire to and something we’re doing well.”

Stay tuned for FM‘s six-months-on follow-up with Mehegan and SUMS Group.

For details about the 2019 FM Innovation Awards or to submit your entry, visit

Lead image: Adam Mehegan of SMM with Martin Leitch at the FM Innovation Awards.

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