Rory Hunter, entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of multiple award-winning, sustainable property companies across Australia and South-East Asia, has launched MODEL – an innovative build-to-rent (BTR) development group that in his own words, “aims to revolutionise the industry by decarbonising the built form at scale, prioritising occupant wellness, and ensuring robust returns for investors.”

Despite buildings accounting for 39% of global emissions, many in the Australian property sector argue that building sustainably is too costly. Hunter's recent white paper, Tomorrow's Too Late - Regenerative Decarbonisation in Build to Rent, takes a comprehensive deep dive into the prevailing argument that sustainable building is prohibitively expensive.

“Through meticulous research, interviews, and case studies, the paper systematically dismantles this misconception,” says Hunter.

“The white paper makes it abundantly clear: the real cost lies in not adopting sustainable practices. It advocates for a paradigm shift, urging the industry to view built forms as part of the climate solution, not the problem,”

Hunter says MODEL stands as a “testament to this vision”.

“It's not just a BTR group but a movement to create spaces where care for self, community, and the planet coexist. With a foundation in climate action, community building, and design innovation, MODEL promises carbon-neutral homes that prioritise mental health and well-being.”

Hunter warns of the impending transition towards a net-zero future, a shift that is gaining momentum at an unprecedented rate.

"As global efforts intensify to combat climate change, the transition to a sustainable, net-zero built environment is not just inevitable—it's imminent. Yet, alarmingly, a significant portion of Australian developers remain unprepared, often underestimating the magnitude and pace of this change," he says.

"The future of development is about creating long-term value and risk mitigation, not just short-term cost-cutting. Those who fail to anticipate and adapt to this rapidly evolving landscape risk being left behind, facing not only financial repercussions but also a growing disconnect from an increasingly environmentally-conscious market."

Hunter says MODEL is set up to decarbonise at pace through dedicated, large-scale BTR projects.

“Our development projections are for 1,000 apartments in Melbourne with a development value of $500M by next year and 5,000 apartments by 2030. It’s through this scale we can deliver exponential benefit to both the environment and our investment partners.”

MODEL will set high sustainability standards, targeting 6 Star Green Star, 9 Star NatHERs, and Living Building Challenge certifications, while also committing to a minimum 10% improvement in biodiversity. The group's holistic approach to decarbonisation ensures every facet of its developments brings about positive societal and environmental change.

Hunter says investors can also find solace in MODEL's approach.

“As government policies swiftly change as we get closer to 2030 and financial institutions increasingly seeking sustainable projects, MODEL is poised to offer “alpha” returns,” Hunter adds.

“MODEL bridges the gap between societal needs and business investment realities. With rapid policy changes, like the upcoming Federal Government’s Sectoral Pathway for Decarbonising the built form and sustainable finance taxonomy, we're confident in our iconoclastic approach.”

Hunter adds that of key importance is “that MODEL developments will be consciously built for adaptation, which helps manage the long-term risk of our capital partners as climate issue, social needs and corresponding policy evolves. MODEL can reduce the risk of investors assets becoming obsolete.”