Robin Mellon, CEO of the Supply Chain Sustainability School in Australia, stepped into the role to act as 'champion' for the small, for-purpose organisation that provides companies within the construction and infrastructure supply chains with free sustainability learning resources, including online modules and templates.
This year, he takes on another challenge to do with sustainability – as a judge on the 2018 Sustainability Awards.
In the lead-up to the awards, which will be held in Sydney on October 11, Harris spoke to Architecture & Design about sustainable design, energy waste and the 'cost v. value' dilemma.
What are you looking for as a judge?
I'm looking to learn - learn about places and designs and concepts and strategies that I haven't seen before - and learn about 'what's possible now'.
How much do you think sustainable design has changed over the past couple of years?
Sustainable design has started to look beyond the 'energy, water, waste' mindset, that remains important, to the impacts that design can have on social and economic outcomes - how design solutions can connect to the presence of human rights and modern slavery in your supply chains, to the resilience of your project, to the ability to keep money in local economies, or provide employment for marginalised groups.
Sustainable design can have so many positive outcomes, not just the chance to minimise the negatives.
What do you think is the most pressing sustainability issue at the moment?
The 'cost v. value' dilemma. Short-term thinking (cheapest cost, and to heck with the impacts) or longer-term thinking (true sustainability and better outcomes all round).
Do you think sustainability is still an add-on or is it now being incorporated holistically?
"Still an add-on"? I've never believed it an add-on, and those that do don't understand it. If you ask someone if they have a 'sustainable business model' they'll find it relevant and important to examine whether they'll still be in business in 5 or 10 years when everything around them is changing; ask them about their approach to sustainability and you'll get the real answer. It's holistic or nothing.
Where do you see sustainable design heading in the next few years?
Much more informed decisions, much clearer choices, much more visible and transparent supply chains.
Designers will have much more information about the impacts associated with the designs, choices and processes they undertake.