The 2017 Sustainability Awards finalists have been picked (or ‘anointed’ if you like) and as the saying goes, ‘what a fine bunch they are.’

Without trying to be deliberately glib, there are some highly interesting and quite innovative entries at our 11th awards. It should make for a very interesting Gala Night on October 26.

Looking back, who knew in 2006 that we would be as successful as we have been with the Sustainability Awards. However, while the move to a more sustainable focus in the built environment is now ‘par for the course’, there are a few things that are still being overlooked.

To put that into context, consider this statement from Ruth Steiner, associate professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida: “Planning for sustainability in the built environment requires us to go beyond our individual disciplines to consider the variety of economic, social, and environmental impacts of our decisions in the long-term.

The sustainability challenge in the built environment disciplines is to become multi-disciplinary and transdisciplinary in our teaching and learning.” It’s that last line that gets my attention, especially the words: ‘multi-disciplinary and transdisciplinary.’

This also ties in with not only what some of this years’ judges have said but also what others in the industry have been writing about. Robin Mellon, CEO of the Supply Chain School recently wrote:

“Everyone involved in the building lifespan, even a small building tenancy, has a supply chain, from the landlord to the utilities to the people who carry out fit-out or minor works, to the suppliers of operational materials and services– if every single link in those supply chains were to be more sustainable, you’d have much, much more efficient, productive and buildings.

And that just makes better business, environmental and societal sense.” In other words, ‘sustainability is not an island’.

Going through the 53 finalists, one thing was obvious: that a massive amount of work, thinking, innovating and designing goes into making even the simplest residential space more sustainable.

Insofar as the future is concerned, the accepted definition of sustainability will start to change, which means we will have to look at how we will be judging and presenting the next awards.

A more holistic approach will be one obvious difference. As for these awards, we don’t have to wait long until the winners of all the categories are announced. Pencil in October 26 at Doltone House in Sydney, and I hope to see you there.