Honour the past and look to the future

24 Feb 2021

A word from Davina Rooney, CEO, Green Building Council of Australia

We are gearing up for the biggest year in Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) history. But as we lean into our future, we must also look back to honour the people who have got us this far. 

Three GBCA stalwarts made the Australia Day Honours list recently. Professor John Thwaites AM, a GBCA board member for eight years and current chair of ClimateWorks, was honoured for his significant service to the environment. As a bridge between research, government and business for many decades, John has been at the forefront of our net zero mission.  

Joining John as a Member of the Order of Australia is Michael Buxton AM, cofounder of GBCA member company MAB Corporation. Michael was recognised for his “significant service to the visual arts, and to the property development sector”. 

Meanwhile, one of GBCA’s most dedicated volunteers, Jeremy Mansfield OAM, deserves his award for his long service to the building and construction industry. Jeremy has lived and breathed Green Star for two decades and has volunteered countless hours to Green Star committees. Jeremy was the driving force behind some of Australia’s most iconic green projects, from Australia’s tallest timber tower at Brisbane’s 25 King Street to the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital, which scored a world-leading 6 Star Green Star rating in 2018.  

Late last year we bid farewell to two long-serving board members, Frasers Property Australia’s Rod Fehring and Multiplex’s John Flecker. Rod, as chair for two years, and John, as deputy chair, helped us to transform Green Star and played big roles getting our Green Star Homes strategy off the ground. Both Rod and John reflect on our achievements during their time on the GBCA Board in this issue of Green Building Voice. 

We have also, sadly, lost two sustainability champions in recent weeks, Haris Moraitis and Jane Montgomery-Hribar AO. Haris volunteered on multiple working groups, most recently Green Star Buildings, and as an assessor reviewed more than 200 Green Star projects. Jane elevated standards of sustainable procurement over nearly two decades and helped to establish the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council. While their passing is a huge loss to our industry, their legacy lives on in the work we do together each day. 

As we honour the people who have contributed to GBCA over many decades, we are also looking to the future. In the next few weeks, we will spill the Green Star Industry and Technical advisory groups and our Expert reference panels and fill them with new talent. The people stepping into these roles have big shoes to fill. But it takes many people to make progress in sustainability and our efforts are cumulative. You can find out more about how to contribute to our many groups and panels in this month’s Green Building Voice. 

We need plenty of fresh perspectives to build a sustainable future, and our next generation of leaders will be living the changes we make today. So, it is our privilege to share the Future Green Leader Award finalists for 2021: 

  • Sarah Lawlor – Senior Architect, fjmt studio 
  • Kate Rowan – Sustainability Advisor, Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project 
  • Tatiana Schonhobel – Sustainability Consultant, Integral Group 
  • HY William Chan – Urbanist and Entrepreneur 

Watch out for the finalists’ stories in the weeks leading up to TRANSFORM which will be focused on the future. This year we will launch no less than eight thought leadership papers that explore the next generation of sustainability challenges – from connecting the circular economy to rethinking resilient materials. We know you need the proof points and a practical roadmap as we head towards the horizon, and this ambitious body of work won’t disappoint. 

Get set for a big year. As we expand the legacy of those on whose shoulders we stand, we extend our reach and our scale across the built environment, and we see further than ever before.