Scientia Professor Mat Santamouris has been awarded the prestigious 2024 PLEA Lifetime Award for ‘outstanding achievement in advancing the fields of architecture, urban planning, sustainability and resilience’.

PLEA (Passive and Low Energy Architecture) is the leading international organisation for the development of sustainable architecture and urban design.

The Anita Lawrence Professor of High-Performance Architecture at UNSW Sydney, who was honoured for his innovative heat mitigation technologies and strategies for cities, received the award at the (Re)thinking Resilience PLEA 2024 Conference held in Poland.

Professor Claire Annesley, Dean of UNSW’s Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture, said, “I congratulate Professor Santamouris on his award in recognition of his contribution to research in sustainable architecture.”

“He is one of the most cited researchers in his field and is making a powerful impact on approaches to cooling cities in the face of climate change.”

Prof Santamouris and his colleagues have been working for more than 30 years to develop advanced technologies aiming to mitigate urban heat, decrease the energy and environmental impact of cities, protect low-income populations, and improve the urban environmental quality.

“I feel proud, flattered and very emotional to receive this award from such a prestigious international organisation,” he said.

“I will continue my efforts and the scientific work to develop more efficient mitigation technologies to counterbalance the impact of urban overheating. The tremendous human penalty paid recently in Mecca, Pakistan and India is extremely alarming and determines our scientific and human duty to be more efficient and more helpful.”

Prof Santamouris has undertaken large-scale mitigation projects around the world, including in Sydney and Darwin. Some of the solutions developed by him include thermochromic materials such as paint that changes colour with the temperature to keep places cool in summer and warm in winter; nanotechnology that gives surfaces a much lower temperature than the ambient temperature; ultra-reflective photonic materials that absorb less heat; and new intelligent building materials that can change the amount of heat they reflect and emit in response to air temperatures.