The 11th annual Sustainability Awards were, by all accounts the best to date. And this is not just marketing spin—many that attended spoke in unison when they commented to me that this year, we managed to come up with an awards program that really ‘hit the spot’, as one attendee said on the night.

However, in many ways this was not surprise. Firstly, the overall awards program, combined with our Sustainability Live panels provided the perfect balance between education and adulation - always a good mix for an industry event.

Secondly, the quality of the entrants was such that when we talk about sustainable development, one thing is clear- the industry at least knows where it’s going and what the right direction should be.

Getting back to the Sustainability Live panel event, this format proved so popular with attendees that next year we are planning to build on this success with an expanded program and a much deeper content delivery format that I believe, will make this event the premier sustainability education and learning event in the country.

As for the awards night, the judging process will be modified and after the months of surveys that we have carried out to determine in what direction sustainability is heading, I think we will have several new categories and entries that will clearly define the trends we are seeing across the built environment.

Getting back to the 2017 Sustainability Awards, the Best of the Best winners, David Barr Architects and their Gen Y house from the Multiple Dwelling category, were certainly highly deserved, a sentiment noted by the judges, who wrote, “It challenges some conventional notions of living space, without compromising liveability and utility.”

While the beauty and practicality of this West Australian development was unbeatable, the other category winners also showed how human-inspired design always trumps mass-produced banality.

Take the simple beauty of the Henry Street House from Eugene Chea Architecture, winners of the Interior Architecture category, or the Skipping Girl Vinegar Factory conversion from One20 Architects who picked up the Heritage category prize, or even Mirvac’s EY Centre, that came up on top in the Commercial category; these are all designs that clearly show that beauty and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.

One of the newer categories on the night, the Achievement of Merit, was won by Jeremy McLeod from Breathe Architecture and the entire Nightingale team for their Nightingale development model, a win that too shows that sustainability and beauty are inseparable.

Overall, this years’ awards made a huge statement— that the built environment is moving ahead in leaps and bounds to change the way we as a species interact with our environment.

This puts us in good stead for our 2018 awards, a fact that many in the industry are now aware of.