Ernst & Young has decided to make a bold foray into the Australia’s sustainability sector with the acquisition of consulting firm Net Balance.

Melbourne-headquartered Net Balance will be incorporated into EY’s climate change and sustainability services group, serving to more double the number of staff working in the unit.

The expansion is a strong sign of EY’s confidence in the growth potential of the sustainability sector in Australia, particularly as it relates to the property industry.

According to Dr. Matthew Bell of the company’s climate change and sustainability services division, large property companies such as Stockland DEXUS and Mirvac, are all highly focused on sustainability measures despite a dimming of support for such issues under the new government.

Mirvac, for example, has emerged as highly vocal proponent of sustainability in the property sector under the leadership of new CEO Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz and sustainability head Paul Edwards.

EY’s acquisition of Net Balance will put it in a far stronger position to cater to the needs of sustainability minded clients in the property sector, by dramatically increasing the company’s climate change and sustainability services group.

Following the acquisition of Net Balance, which is slated to conclude in September, EY’s sustainability team will expand from around 40 employees to roughly 100 following the addition of Net Balance’s 60 strong staff.

In addition to the dramatic increase in staff numbers provided by the acquisition, EY expects to benefit tremendously from Net Balance’s impressive track record in the field of sustainability consulting.

Since its founding in 2006, the company has emerged as one of the leading sustainability consultancies in Australia, offering services in areas including climate change mitigation and adaption, energy assessment and strategy, environmental management and supply chain policy and practice.

The company made Business Review Weekly’s list of Australia’s 100 fastest growing companies in both 2010 and 2011.

Net Balance founder Terence Jeyaretnam will become an EY partner, in a move that has been described by Bell as much more of a merger more than a takeover.