Overview of your role

I’m the National Work Health & Safety and Sustainability Manager at KNAUF Australia. I work directly with our teams in manufacturing, sales and marketing, and customer solutions. One day I could be working from a manufacturing plant, another day I could be on a construction site visiting builders and the next I could be at an industry conference. It’s a varied role, which I like. I can get involved in different aspects of the business and see various stages of a project. 

KNAUF has been involved in the Australian lightweight construction materials for many years. In the time that you’ve been in business, how have you seen the industry develop with respect to sustainability?

I’ve been in this role for 10 years and have seen a lot of change, mainly the rise of green building, different eco-labels and product certifications. I’ve seen ‘sustainability’ shift from purely an environmental focus to other aspects such as economic and social. When we talk about sustainability, it’s important to keep the social aspect in mind, namely people and wellbeing – in the workplace, at home and at leisure. 

Have you witnessed any challenges in getting people/companies in the industry to be more sustainability-focused? 

The biggest challenge is getting people to realise that sustainability isn’t just about the environment but economic and social too - it’s about looking at how people use the spaces we’re building. 

How do you hope to see it evolve in the respect of sustainability in future?

There’s definitely room for growth. People (the general public) are becoming more aware of sustainability. Social sustainability will be a big focus. There’s a statistic that gets quoted a lot, claiming that we spend 90% of our time indoors. Our products physically surround people, so we need to ensure we’re building healthy, safe and comfortable environments. 

KNAUF’s website states that you are committed to sustainable development, particularly with Australia’s first carbon-neutral plasterboard and smart living. Are you able to please provide more detail about your overall sustainability strategy?

We have the environment and society in mind in everything we do. Our three focus areas within that are our operations, the solutions we provide and how that relates to the community. We’re constantly working on these areas in everything we do. With carbon-neutral plasterboard, for example, we had to work operationally to reduce carbon emissions, our customers can opt-in to our carbon offset program to reduce the carbon footprint associated with their project to zero, and we choose the programs that will benefit the communities that need it most . 

We’re delighted that KNAUF is sponsoring the inaugural Women In Sustainability category, what drew you to this category/what does this category mean to you?

We’re really passionate about promoting diversity and we are excited about the fact that this is a new category. We have a strong female presence at KNAUF and there are a lot of women working in sustainability in the industry as whole – this category resonates with our values as a company. We also want to be involved in an award that will make people aware of what is possible in sustainability, raise awareness and recognise people doing great things. 

The construction industry has long been a male dominated area, but that is changing rapidly. At KNAUF we believe in empowering women, and we are proud of having strong female leaders in many of our key teams, both here in Australia and overseas. We are also the proud sponsors of a women’s rugby team in Beenleigh, Queensland.