In July, I had good reason to be excited about a sustainability tradeshow coming to Sydney which looked to be right down my alley.

The event was billed as the nation’s leading showcase of green building products, one that would provide suppliers and manufacturers a platform to pitch their latest offerings to an audience truly interested in sustainable building.

But while it was refreshing to hear exhibitors voicing the sustainability story of their products, I have to admit that numbers were low on the day I visited and I was left wondering why.

My question was soon answered when an industry Q & A panel chaired by Sustainability Awards judge, Alistair Coulstock got underway a bit later. The panel addressed four or five key obstacles shackling the progress of green building in Australia but in doing so continually returned to one core issue—our culture.

The consensus around the panel was that Australia is performing well below its potential in terms of sustainable building because, quite simply, the majority of us don’t care for it. (Maybe this was why attendance at the event was low!)

So how then do we change this culture? How do we make people care about the sustainability of their buildings?

The panel offered a number of solutions, most of which are too sophisticated to summarise here, however there was a general consensus that change needed to come on a few fronts and from a variety of stakeholders, not least the design sector who hold a significant position of influence in society.

After the panel I talked with Sophie Solomon, an architect and long-time supporter of Architecture & Design, and her take was that the media could do more to celebrate and encourage those within the industry making conscious efforts to not just design, manufacture and build green but also those who continually hold the line against compromise to do so.  

This was the founding premise of the Sustainability Awards when it began 10 years ago, one (I hope) it still hasn’t lost sight of. The Sustainability Awards are as much about discovering new buildings, products and designers as they are about commercialising and propagating their success to the public as real and valuable alternatives to the status quo.

It’s a testament to you, the designer and reader, that in its tenth year, The Sustainability Awards received a record number of entrants and more publicity than ever before. But we can still do better!

Nevertheless we’re very proud to present the 2016 Sustainability Awards shortlist and welcome you to visit Architecture & Design’s dedicated awards portal to view full summaries and additional images of all products and projects at the forefront for sustainable building in Australia.