Valerie Mack is a Principal of Interior Design at Buchan. She has a long string attached to her bow when it comes to her involvement in sustainability and the interior design profession. A former President for the DIA VIC/TAS Council and DIA Fellow, she currently sits on the Sustainable Developments Committee for the Property Council of Australia, and is a participant in the Resilient Communities Leadership Group looking at the strategic direction of residential and mixed-use developments. It is with this experience, we were eager to speak to Valerie about why she thinks women are important in furthering the practices of sustainable design.

“After many years of involvement in sustainable design, working with countless colleagues of all genders, I believe that there are several characteristics, often considered more prevalent in women, that are beneficial to this role. It seems to me that people with certain attributes are the ones drawn to becoming sustainability leaders – and are more likely to thrive in the role.”

“Without delving too deeply into the science of gender, research has found that we all think differently. These differences are not rules, but the question is – Do women bring a different level of empathy and inclusiveness to their advocacy and problem-solving, therefore enhancing their efficacy as sustainability leaders?  It is perhaps this empathy that drives me to focus on social sustainability, resilience and the impact the built environment has on people.”

With the continuous growth and recognition of social sustainability within the built environment sector, Valerie feels that women are well placed to be advocates for this needed third dimension of the sustainability tripod.

“Social sustainability occurs when the built environment actively supports connected relationships. Architecture alone cannot create or cause connectedness but can enhance the ability of people to create healthy and resilient communities. This focus on the human experience is at the forefront of thinking for interior designers who seek to influence human behaviour through the interpretation and utilisation of the various characteristics of physical space.”

“To me, social sustainability is the process for creating spaces that promote mental, social and physical wellbeing. I like to start by understanding what people need from the places where they live, work, play and learn. Then combine the design of the physical realm with design of the social world, with amenity to support social and cultural life, places for engagement, and space for people to connect.”

For more information visit Knauf here