Australia Day Honours celebrates those making every place better

25 Feb 2021

The Australian Honours and Awards system aims to recognise and thank ordinary Australians who do extraordinary things to make our nation a better place. This year several sustainability champions were recognised for their work in making the places where we live, work and play, better too.

The 2021 honours noted the continuous efforts of John Thwaites AM and Jeremy Mansfield OAM, two long-time Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) friends recognised for their services to the environment, building and construction industries.

John sat on the GBCA Board from 2008-2016, chaired the former Advocacy Committee and was a member of the Nomination & Governance Committee too. In late 2016 we celebrated John’s contribution with a GBCA Fellow award to acknowledge his important contribution to the development and ongoing success of the sustainable building movement, GBCA and Green Star.

John’s passion for environmental sustainability branches out further than GBCA; he has chaired ClimateWorks Australia since 2009 and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute since 2008 and beyond his work in this field, he was also recognised for significant service to the people and Parliament of Victoria.

John served as Victoria’s Deputy Premier from 1999 until his retirement in 2007, during this time he served as Minister for several portfolios including Environment, Water, Planning Health and Victorian Communities, and as the inaugural Minister for Climate Change.

We also extend gratitude to Jeremy Mansfield OAM for his influence on Green Star. As Lendlease’s National Sustainability Operations Manager and Regional Sustainability Manager, Jeremy’s work can be seen in the heights of Australia’s tallest timber structure, 25 King Street Brisbane, and along the ‘green spine’ of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Australia’s largest public healthcare facility to receive Six Star Green Star — Healthcare v1 and Green Star — Design and As-Built ratings.

The hospital is one of many projects that Jeremy has applied his Green Star expertise to since 2006. He shares this expertise back into the rating tools by volunteering on GBCA industry groups and panels and was named as a Green Star Champion in 2020, but he remembers a time when the industry didn’t recognise its impact on people and the planet.

“For me there was a shift in around 2005, when Lendlease achieved the first 5 Star Green Star – Office As Built v1 rating in the country with a building that produced around 30% less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional buildings of similar dimensions at that time. It sent a clear signal that a green building could be good for both the environment and the bottom line. It was an industry game changer,” says Jeremy.

Jeremy knows that we’ve come a long way since then and recognises there’s still much to do to realise our collective vision of a resilient, sustainable and healthy built environment. He also chairs Green Cross Australia and says no one is prouder of his volunteer and professional work than his dad, Garth, also an OAM recipient, who told Jeremy that work really began for him when he received the award.

Jeremy has his eye on the work ahead and says the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements made a clear case for future action, “We need to ensure our built environment and vulnerable communities can weather these natural hazard events. I will continue to support practical actions towards a more sustainable and resilient Australia, addressing both adaptation and mitigation (decarbonisation) actions of the built environment.”

We would like to thank Jeremy and John for their ongoing support of GBCA and Green Star and congratulate them on receiving their Australia Day Honours.

You can see John Thwaites speaking at TRANSFORM on the Leaders’ panel, adapting & growing sustainable business - how do we build back better?
Tickets are available on the TRANSFORM website.