The winner for the 2019 Sustainability Awards Future Sustainability Leader category is HY William Chan.
Chan is an urban innovator designing resilient and inclusive cities for people. He is a TED speaker and is featured in the '30 Under 30' lists by Forbes (industry, manufacturing and energy) and GreenBiz (sustainability leadership) for 2019.
The list celebrates people under the age of 30 who are “game changers” in their field.
Chan, who works for Cox Architecture is the only honouree currently working in architecture.
According to the judges, “HY William Chan’s ambition in the sustainable built environment industry is reflected in his influence and advocacy on the world stage, and his design innovations and projects globally. A recent graduate of architecture (2018), William has used the power of innovation, technology and sustainability to empower refugee youth to design their own built environments globally.”
“He has developed an award-winning life-changing desktop tool that creatively upcycles plastic waste in refugee camps into useful 3D-printed shelter elements, and at the same time, upskills young people in environmental sustainability. The initiative, the first of its kind in the world, educates young refugees in future skills, the circular economy and ‘green’ design.”
Chan says that he believes a ‘startup’ attitude is essential for the architectural profession to innovate.
“The architecture, engineering and construction industry is one of the least disrupted sectors globally,” he says.
“Architects have a uniquely creative skillset, but we need to be more agile and entrepreneurial in how we design solutions that address the economic and social challenges of our cities so that we remain relevant as an industry.”
Last year, Chan was invited to New York where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly. At the High Level Meeting on Social Business, Youth and Technology, he advocated for the practical influence that young architects have towards sustainable urban development, showcasing his personal sustainability projects to global leaders including Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus.
"Being named the inaugural Future Sustainability Leader is a testament that there is no age barrier in proactively leading and creating solutions towards a more sustainable and regenerative future. The climate emergency can only be solved by working collectively with industry experts together with Australia's up-and-coming architects and designers, the generation that will face the brunt of the climate crisis," says Chan.