colLab Series #4: Engineers, architects call for change

Melbourne, Australia: Exploring how engineers and architects can actively support the transition of our economy towards a low carbon future was the focus of  colLab series event no.4 held on February 18th 2020.

About 120 people including architects, engineers, fabricators, developers, builders and property investment managers gathered to discuss how the building and construction industry can best address the impending climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. The meeting was held at the office of financial advisor Pitcher Partners who sponsored the event with Inhabit.

Chris Buntine said the Australian engineering profession provided the essential services, infrastructure and enabling technology that underpin our high standard of living in Australia and engineers are respected for their contribution:

 “At the same time engineering activities are connected with over 65% of Australia’s direct greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian community is reliant on the engineering profession’s experience, creativity, problem-solving skills, and balanced approach to enable our transition towards a more sustainable future. This means engineering practice needs to change.”

Breathe Architects was committed to going Carbon Neutral in their practice in 2010, Madeline Sewall said. By designing fossil-fuel-free buildings with a smaller footprint, using recycled materials and 100 per cent green power Breathe was comitted to making a meaningful impact on housing affordability, accessibility, and sustainability. More than 550 companies and organisations had committed to joining Breathe on this journey, she said.

Danielle Savio reminded attendees that “39% of world carbon emissions come from the construction industry and 28% from operational emissions heating/cooling.” She said Multiplex had committed to net zero carbon for the buildings they own and occupy, as well as continuing to advocate for better design and delivery practices across the building industry. Australians need to learn from other countries and then build on their expertise to deliver solutions tailored to our context.

According to David Waldren, property owners were adopting sustainability goals to maintain a sustainability leadership position, meet increasing investor expectations while attracting new capital investment:

“We need to promote a positive culture by engaging with our retailers and consumers and by showing people the positive future. In this way we can find the value in our investments.”

An engaging and informed panel discussion with questions from the floor covered issues such as whether sustainability had just become a fashionable trend and how to make it an integral part of investment, design and property development.

Inhabit is planning future events in the series. If you are interested to be involved in future colLab series events please email

. David Waldren, National Head of Design – Vicinity Centres
. Chris Buntine – Engineers Declare
. Madeline Sewall – Breathe Architecture
. Danielle Savio, Project Manager – Multiplex
. Clare Parry, Director – Grün Consulting (moderator)

ColLab Series:
. colLab Series # 3: Focus on modular construction
. colLab Series #2: Collaboration highlighted
. colLab Series #1: Launch in Melbourne