Much like the lyrics of the 1990s rock classic Wind of Change, many new concepts are blowing on the wind of change for architects and designers, along with the built industry as a whole, according to head 2017 Sustainability Awards judge Dick Clarke*.

“There are two things that we will see much more of in the coming years – the first one is more of the passive house movement-which is a bit like ‘how to design a really big esky’ that also involves the addition of a mechanical heat recovery system,” says Clarke.

“And this won’t be just in the residential sector either,” he says.

The second (and perhaps much more overwhelming) concept that architects and designers (and for that matter the entire building industry) will need to get their heads around is the Living Building Challenge-described by Clarke as being the “world’s most rigorous performance standard for buildings.”

“The Living World Challenge is “much more rigorous than the Green star standards - it’s a bit like Green star on steroids,” he says.

Headquartered in Seattle, by its own description, the “Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualises the ideal for the built environment.”

It uses the metaphor of a flower because “the ideal built environment should function as cleanly and efficiently.”

“It’s all about rigour,” says Clarke, adding that, “it’s also about questioning the testing of all the products used in the built environment.”

Clarke says, “It’s very much like an ISO standard when it comes to the auditing and documentation part,” adding that, "there will be no chance of green washing.”

“Australia has been quite shy to date when it comes to that level of rigour,” says Clarke.
“While it’s going to be a good thing, with the Living World Challenge and passive house, you can’t relax.”

“It will affect the entire supply chain - for example materials suppliers will have to supply comprehensive information and thoroughly document all their suppliers, processes and products.”

“The [in-depth and far reaching] certification processes involved in the Living World Challenge are long overdue in this country,” says Clarke.

“It will also have a positive impact on our trade skills, which will have further implications for the entire trade education sector,” he says.

*Dick Clarke is founder and owner of Sydney-based design consultancy Envirotecture that specialises in sustainable building design and is also the head judge at the 2017 Architecture and Design Sustainability Awards.