Dick Clarke from Envirotecture is no stranger to questions on sustainability, nor is he unaccustomed—so it seems — to speed dating. But what do these have in common?

The Alternative Technology Association (ATA), a not-for-profit organisation that aims to connect and assist people to make sustainable choices in their homes and communities, is hosting a ‘Speed Date a Sustainability Expert’ (SDSE) event in Sydney at the weekend.

Funded by a City of Sydney environmental grant, the free speed dating event aims to connect people interested in sustainable building principles with leading architects and horticulturalists. 

Clarke will be joined by a host of sustainability experts who will answer questions from participants in a speed dating format. Participants will be given 13 minutes to converse with their ‘dates’ between 2:00 – 4:00pm at Paddington Town Hall, Oxford Street, Sydney.

Participants will have a chance to meet at least two of the experts in what Clarke describes as a fun experience.

“It is a frenetic experience, without a doubt the fastest passage of two hours I have ever experienced. They say time flies when you're having fun - if that's true, then Speed Dating a Sustainable Designer must be the most fun thing in the known universe,” he said. 

Clarke said that the most common questions will be around the theme of thermal performance for homes and that he and his expert panel are ready for a myriad of questions on the topic.

What else should people be asking?

“Apart from ‘How did we end up (with) governments that put money ahead of people and nature?’, I would like people to ask how they can achieve a reasonable lifestyle with minimal eco impact - to take a big picture approach,” said Clarke in an interview with Architecture and Design.

“The details then become the means to an end, rather than becoming all-consuming and the end in their own right. And to make all their purchasing decisions remembering just how lucky we are to live in this country.”

Clarke implored people who are attending the event to come prepared with sketches, plans and photographs, but most of all to do a bit of research.

“Read, read, read. The Your Home Technical Manual is a great starting point for any course of design enquiry. The principal author, and several contributors and peer reviewers will (be) at SDSE, so we should know!”

The full list of sustainability experts:

  • Amber Road - interior and landscape design, Katy Svalbe & Yasmine Ghoniem
  • Anderson Architecture 
  • Archisoul - designers, Sue Connor and Jo Gillies, 
  • Archology - designers
  • Australian Living - designers
  • David Baillie Architect 
  • Day Bukh Architects 
  • EcoSphere Design
  • Eminè Mehmet - interior design
  • Envirotecture - designer
  • Free Range Food Gardens, Gordon Williams
  • Graham Hunt - designer
  • Greener Kitchens – designer
  • Ian Sercombe Architect
  • Lachlan Austin – glazing
  • Lucy Sharman – green roofs, walls and facades 
  • Marra + Yeh Architects – designer
  • PIDCOCK – architecture and sustainability
  • Stephen Sainsbury Architect
  • Suntech Design, Chris Reardon
  • Sydney Organic Gardens, Steve Batley
  • YESsammassey Designs
  • Your Abode – builder, designer.

Visit the ATA website to register for the event. 

Dick Clarke is a former judge for the BPN Sustainability Awards and an industry voice for sustainable design practices.  

He is the founding director of Envirotecture, which offers a range of training courses tailored to increase practical solutions which focus on sustainable knowledge in building design and construction.

Having trained with Al Gore in November 2006 to be a volunteer presenter with the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Climate Project, Dick is involved with various government and non-governmental bodies on environmental issues surrounding the built environment.

He is also the Director of Sustainability at the BDA of NSW, and past President of the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA).