City of Sydney’s CitySwitch Program

Accelerating the journey for businesses to reach net zero

In partnership with the City of Sydney’s CitySwitch initiative, which is Australia’s flagship sustainability program for businesses, Purpose developed a program structure to advance businesses on their sustainability journeys, and a measurement & evaluation framework to demonstrate CitySwitch’s impact on reducing business emissions. 

Project Type:
02. Insight & Strategy


The CitySwitch program vision is to achieve net zero emissions from commercial office buildings and the business sector in Australia.

A national program running since 2008, CitySwitch works with businesses to help them reduce their emissions. It’s administered by City of Sydney with participating Councils around Australia working directly with businesses. It has primarily been delivered by program managers in each council who’ve provided businesses bespoke support. While this has been well received, it can’t be scaled.

CitySwitch needed to shift from this one-to-one model of delivery, to one that would enable them to deliver support by where a businesses is on their sustainability journey.


75% percent of Australian CxOs say their companies are very concerned about climate change (Deloitte 2022 CxO Sustainability Report), but most don’t know how to start taking action.

With more and more businesses looking to act on climate change, CitySwitch had an opportunity to capture to this market. An evolved CitySwitch program would need to surface the journey businesses would need to undertake to reduce their emissions and reach net zero.

Theory of Change

03. Initiative

In partnership with CitySwitch, Purpose developed a program structure that will help office-based businesses reduce their emissions by mapping the pathway to net zero and connecting them with others on the journey.

Accompanying the new structure, Purpose developed a measurement & evaluation framework that will demonstrates the impact of CitySwitch on reducing business emissions.

04. Research

In conducting the exploratory and evaluative research, several key learnings were surfaced which guided the iteration from the initial prototype developed by CitySwitch, to the final pathways model:

  • – Maintain the flexible and practical nature, over a more prescriptive model
  • – Structure the program to surface the work that needs to be done
  • – Avoid evolving the program to appear as a rating or accreditation system
05. Campaign Wins & Impact

Resulting from Purpose’s partnership with CitySwitch, participating councils believed that the pathway model articulates a clearer vision for the program and will be easier to sell to funders and engage government, CitySwitch program managers believed that the pathway model will make it easier for them to support businesses and is much clearer in what resources to provide them, and reporting requirements from participating businesses have been simplified to align with the pathway and reduce the burden.

CitySwitch will align their program delivery to support businesses to make progress against the new pathway program structure. This will include building out a digital experience which supports signatories to take action against pathway, allowing them to reach more businesses and scale their impact.

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