In a recent interview, head judge for the 2020 Sustainability Awards Dick Clarke outlines his vision of what the jury would like to see in this years’ entries.

After now running for a straight 14 years, how do you see the 2020 Sustainability Awards as being relevant to today’s built environment?

More than ever, our built environment needs to step up and carry the lion’s share of sustainability. The climate emergency, the need for resilience in the face of heat waves, east coast lows, bushfires, and droughts - all point very clearly to the imperative to ‘do different, do better’.

What would you like to see more of in this years’ awards, and conversely, what would you like to see less of?

More fully energy autonomous buildings, more bio-diverse regenerative landscapes, more of those two combined.

More buildings integrated into a sustainable urban context: transport, water & waste water, micrograms, even waste management. This one’s a big ask for most of us because it involves pulling threads together across site boundaries, across institutions and across tiers of government responsibility - but it’s what we need.

Less ostentation (not that we see much of that, thankfully), but not less beauty.

As someone who has a vast body of work in sustainable design, what would you say is the most important thing when it comes to planning/designing a building?

There are a series of “most importants” - each is ‘important’ in its own way and in different ways.

In the now - it has to meet the needs of users/occupants - or there’s really no point. In the neighbourhood - it has to contribute to a broad sense of social good in the future - it has to not diminish the future, locally or globally.

As the head judge for the awards over many years, what are you expecting the level and focus of entries will be in 2020?

I am expecting it to be better than ever - because every year it has been, more or less.

Over the years have any entries really surprised you and if so , how?

Yes there have been some amazing ides expressed in buildings, landscapes, materials and systems. Things like the Papyrus paper and board manufacturing system that turns waste banana tree trunks into high value end products, and even useful by-products. That one made its first public splash in the Sustainability Awards, and even though - like so many innovations - it has been a long road to commercialisation, it is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

Another example is the Adelaide Children’s Hospital’s approach to providing a positive healing physical environment that de-institutionalises the old notion of the hospital ward, replacing it with bright daylight, healthy air, colour and pattern.

For any more questions on entering the 2020 Sustainability Awards, go to or email [email protected]