Sustainability Awards judge in profile: GECA’s Kate Harris

  •   16 June 2017

Kate Harris, CEO of Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), will be one of our judges for this year’s Sustainability Awards. Harris brings to the expert jury panel an extensive background in leadership, capacity-building and education aimed at finding sustainable solutions for the future.

Prior to GECA, Harris spent six years at the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, the last two of which were in the capacity of CEO. She is also the founder of consulting firm Future Ready.

In the lead-up to the 2017 Sustainability Awards, Harris spoke to A&D about going beyond the low-hanging fruit of sustainability, moving beyond tokenism and where sustainability is heading in the new few years.

What are you looking for as a judge?

Stand-out leadership and the courage to go beyond BAU [business as usual] and the ‘low-hanging fruit’ [of sustainable solutions]. It’s time to create real significant sustainable change.

How much do you think sustainable design has changed over the past couple of years?

I think there has been significant change, particularly in the commercial sector. But it’s a good time [to] leapfrog into true, future paradigms of built design and infrastructure projects

What do you think is the most pressing sustainability issue for the industry at the moment?

  • Retrofitting existing buildings (frugal innovation)
  • Residential scalable sustainable projects
  • Consideration of embodied energy
  • Health and the future of new materials and technology
  • Customer awareness of how the built environment effects our health and happiness

What is a new technology or approach that you hope gains wider use?

Easier integration for the use of best-practice emerging materials and [the] real operational performance of a building within building modelling systems (BIM). Also, longer term horizons to the return on investment through operational performance and natural capital. Social cost to environment and society [should also] be quantified and be [considered as] cost considerations [for] projects and ROI calculations.

Do you think sustainability is still an add-on, or is it starting to be incorporated more holistically?

I think we still see both. The standout projects and designers incorporate it holistically, [but it’s] time for all [of us] to move beyond tokenism. We have significant challenges ahead and [the] 2050 road map will come up quicker than we think. The time for radical implementation is now.

Where do you see sustainable design heading in the next few years?

The growth of truly sustainable and beautiful materials from nature, [incorporated] into the future of full design stages.