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Calling For Exemplars Of Different, Better Design

Great news: as of today, you officially have another two weeks to get your entries in for Sustainability Awards 2020! Here’s what the judges are looking for.

According to Natasha Mulcahy, Sustainability Awards 2020 ambassador and sustainability and engagement manager for Sekisui House’s West Village project in Brisbane, this year’s awards are more important than ever. “In many ways,” says Mulcahy, who won the Women in Sustainability Award category in 2019, “this is the most important year to keep sustainability and climate change on the agenda. How government, business and society respond and refocus during the pandemic and into the recovery will influence the course of climate change for decades,” she says.

To celebrate the extended deadline for Sustainability Awards 2020 entries – now closing August 7 – Branko Miletic caught up with Dick Clarke, the program’s chief juror, to gain insight into just what it is the judges are looking for in this year’s entries. Here’s what he had to say…


2020 marks the fourteenth consecutive year of Architecture & Design’s Sustainability Awards program – how do you see it as being relevant to today’s built environment?

More than ever, our built environment needs to step up and carry the lion’s share of sustainability. The climate emergency, the need for resilience in the face of heat waves, east coast lows, bushfires, and droughts, all point very clearly to the imperative to ‘do different, do better’.


What would you like to see more of in this year’s awards, and conversely, what would you like to see less of?

More fully energy autonomous buildings, more bio-diverse regenerative landscapes, more of those two combined.

More buildings integrated into a sustainable urban context: transport, water and wastewater, micrograms, even waste management. This one’s a big ask for most of us because it involves pulling threads together across site boundaries, across institutions and across tiers of government responsibility – but it’s what we need.

Less ostentation – not that we see much of that, thankfully – but not less beauty.


The need for resilience in the face of heat waves, east coast lows, bushfires, and droughts, all point very clearly to the imperative to ‘do different, do better’.”


As someone who has a vast body of work in sustainable design, what would you say is the most important thing when it comes to planning/designing a building?

The answer to this question is threefold:

  1. In the now: it has to meet the needs of users/occupants, or there’s really no point.
  2. In the neighbourhood: it has to contribute to a broad sense of social good.
  3. In the future: it has to not diminish the future, locally or globally.


As the head judge for the awards over many years, have any entries really surprised you and if so, how?

Yes, there have been some amazing ideas expressed in buildings, landscapes, materials and systems. Things like the Papyrus paper and board manufacturing system that turns waste banana tree trunks into high value end products, and even useful by-products. That one made its first public splash in the Sustainability Awards, and even though – like so many innovations – it has been a long road to commercialisation, it is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

Another example is the Adelaide Children’s Hospital’s approach to providing a positive healing physical environment that de-institutionalises the old notion of the hospital ward, replacing it with bright daylight, healthy air, colour and pattern.


What are you expecting the level and focus of entries will be in 2020?

I am expecting it to be better than ever – because every year it has been, more or less.

Enter the Sustainability Awards 2020 here

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