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The proof is in the project – how four people are making sustainable change

There’s no time like now to celebrate the nation’s best advocates and aficionados of sustainable design. We take a look at the winners of the Sustainability Awards 2021 – and everything they’re doing to champion change in the industry.

The proof is in the project – how four people are making sustainable change

This year’s Sustainability Award winners stood out from the pack with their unparalleled experience, innovative ideas and fundamental commitment to ensuring the future of the planet through design.

Having garnered decades of experience between them, the award winners are among the cream of the crop in Australia’s sustainable architecture and design sphere. 

We take a look at the winners’ achievements, projects and sustainability commitments.

Lifetime Achievement

Tone Wheeler | environa studio

A close up portrait shot of Tone Wheeler, 2021 Sustainability Award winner.

Boasting fifty years of innovation in Australian architecture sustainability, Tone Wheeler of environa studio certainly has a lifetime of achievements under his belt.

Awarded to a person who has worked to advance sustainability in Australia’s built environment over the course of their career, the lifetime achievement award is a stalwart in the Sustainability Awards calendar. 

Wheeler’s work has been at the forefront of new technology R&D, design methodologies, policies and resources, and construction materials. He has also delivered hundreds of talks advocating sustainability and community engagement, and makes regular media appearances as a sustainability expert.

Some of the materials that we now take for granted – such as natHERS, BASIX, and building products developed with BlueScope Steel, James Hardie and Austral, to name a few – have been developed under the guidance of Wheeler’s innovation and expertise.

environa studio

Emerging Architect/Designer

David Coates | Sustainable Building & Design Pty Ltd

A close up portrait shot of David Coates, a 2021 Sustainability Award winner.

Victorian home designer Sustainable Building & Design cleaned up at this year’s Sustainability Awards, taking out the Single Dwelling and the Smart Building Ideas awards. It comes as no surprise then, that Sustainable Building & Design’s founder David Coates was awarded the Emerging Architect/Designer award.

Coates began Sustainable Building & Design upon moving back to Australia after a number of years in London. He now has two and a half decades of mainly urban design experience in the building industry, demonstrating that Coates truly lives and breathes sustainability.

The business has developed from sustainable renovations to developing sustainable dwellings from scratch. 

According to the Sustainability Awards, Coates “is paving the way for a greater movement in sustainable urban design by showcasing what can really can be achieved to improve our planet, not just talked about and his approach is to create genuine sustainability in building that is possible for the broader community”.

Sustainable Building & Design

Women in Sustainability 

Belinda Allwood & Dr Shaneen Fantina | POD (People Oriented Design)

A portrait shot of Belinda Allwood & Dr Shaneen Fantina, 2021 Sustainability Award winners.

For 15 years, Belinda Allwood and Shaneen Fantina worked as associates, senior architects and project managers for a variety of Cairns firms. It was on the basis of this knowledge that POD was founded in 2014.

The studio’s philosophy is developed around three main tenets: sustainability; society, culture and design; and “the least house necessary”.

The Women in Sustainability award is open to architects, designers, engineers and students who have influenced or added to the world of sustainable design in the last two years. 

This year, Allwood and Dr Fantin were recognised for their tremendous contribution to Australian architecture, in both their sustainability-focussed seminars, research and published books, and through their pro-bono projects for community, environmental and First Nations organisations.


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