Dr Chris Reardon

One of our great champions of sustainable design has passed away. Dr Chris Reardon, who was known to many readers of The Fifth Estate, died at his home/office in Goulburn on the evening of 17 November 2014, aged 61.

Chris came from a well-known family in the Goulburn area where he developed a love of the land and climate. He studied architecture for three years, and graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Design from Canberra CAE in 1979, and immediately started work as a building designer and house builder with a special interest in precast concrete, earth covered and sustainable buildings.

Over 20 years he built a reputation as an iconoclast designer, epitomised in his rambling three-storey home/office/workshop. His forceful proselytising was well known to the Building Designers Association, for whom he acted as office bearer and conference organiser for a number of years.

He started a PhD at the newly formed Institute for Sustainable Futures over a decade ago, and was instrumental in winning the federal government contract for the “Your Home” project, where he acted as editor and wrote much of the original website and technical material, and was involved in the subsequent editions. He also completed his PhD, in language that his younger self would never have recognised.

In recent years he had acted as a consultant to many government departments and NGOs, having never lost a passion to make a more sustainable world. No doubt St Peter is currently getting some advice on how heaven could do with some wind-powered LEDs. His many friends and colleagues will miss the big bear terribly.

Vale Chris Reardon.

Tone Wheeler is principal architect, Environa Studios

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35 replies on “Chris Reardon: a champion of sustainability”

  1. So sorry to hear of this sad news. You were a good mate back in those days when we turned up at Joey’s at the start of 1970 for our last two years of school – you the ‘hick’ from Goulburn and surrounds and me the ‘city slicker’ from Canberra. Some good memories from those two years. Was only thinking about you a few weeks ago and what you might have been up to. RIP Chris…a good bloke!

  2. Goodbye mate, I’ll miss you. Whether it was fighting through our PHDs, sharing a red, paddling or working, you were a friend, mentor and big influence on me… Thank you, and I will miss you.

  3. I thought I should add something here from a different perspective.

    My connection with Chris was personal, rather than professional, and goes back more than 40 years. I and most of his friends probably didn’t fully understand the major impact he had in his more academic type pursuits and on the building industry in Australia. It’s gratifying to know that he was as comprehensively respected and valued in his professional life as he was by his many friends in his personal life.

    For the entire time I have known Chris he has exuded positivity and passion for sustainable design and building approaches, not to mention a certain Alfa Romeo GTV back in the early days. He always had time and sage advice for his friends, even when we maybe didn’t want it! He was a great mate to me over the entire time I have known him and I will miss him deeply.

    He and his family were always generous hosts starting from our younger days of experiencing Goulburn B&Ss with him encouraging his Sydney based friends to attend and in the intervening years during which we have consumed many good dinners and bottles of red (and arguments) together at his various residences in and around Goulburn, and at our various residences in Sydney. A few legendary rum tastings at Neelys are firmly etched in my psyche. Myself and my partner were privileged to have him stay with us at Petersham during many visits to Sydney as part of his sojourn at the ISF.

    I have always enjoyed staying at the various houses he has built and have always loved the way they work and just feel so LIVABLE. A significant personal regret will be that I never did get to build and live in a house designed by Chris, although we did put together a design for one which didn’t manage to get to the building stage. More’s the pity for my partner and me but also that we didn’t add an extra Suntech house to the world stock.

    My deepest sympathies go out to Gerard, Trish and Jen and the rest of his extended family and friends.

    We all miss you REARDO!

  4. VALE Dr Chris Reardon
    A close friend and long-time supporter of our publications, Chris contributed in his inimitable style with a mass of information and a passionate plea for us all to take responsibility for the choices we make in a world struggling with climate change.

    His heartfelt thunder and his warmth will be dearly missed.

  5. A truly sad loss indeed, Chris was a terrific fellow with passion and focus. I shan’t forget his wonderful influence both personally and professionally. Thoughts go out to all Chris’s loved ones.

  6. I also am deeply saddened to learn this news today . Chris not only contributed enormously to the the sustainable building industry but to government policy making. He was as generous with ideas for reform to policy as he was honest in his criticism of bad policy. The ‘pink batts’ fiasco may not have happened if those responsible for the design of the program heeded the advice Chris offered. Just two weeks ago Chris presented at a Sustainability Festival in his home town. Event organiser Mhairi Fraser wrote of his contribution at the Goulburn Connects Festival that ‘it was clear that he was bursting with so much information that we could easily have had a whole day seminar with him. He died doing what he loved – designing sustainable homes for people to enjoy for a long time.’ Vale Chris Reardon.

  7. I am greatly saddened to hear of the big fellas passing. I didnt mind the arguments, as I learned earlier on to let him win them. Twas more about delving deeper into the issue with the thrust and parry. He has achieved more in his life than most, except he never was able to get ‘The Big Merino’ shifted out of Goulburn, over to Yass, where he believed it belonged. A great legacy, and I have learned much from him. Miss him.

  8. How can you sum up the incredible achievements of this beautiful man in a few words? I simply say thank you Chris for being my friend and colleague for the past 20 years or so. I will miss you terribly.

    Chris always said he was here for a good time, not a long time and while we are all deeply saddened by his passing his achievements live on. Most of all his ability to motivate people to take up the sustainability challenge should be recognised. Without his passion for our environment many of us would not be achieving the great changes we are seeing, not only to the built environment, but to our personal lives as well.

    Chris had a way of inspiring us to be better people and when we lose someone of his calibre the world is a sadder place. We will all miss you Chris.

  9. A great man who I am pleased to have known. Willing to share his knowledge and passion, I can say that I am a better person for having spent time with Chris. May he rest in peace.

  10. Very sad and sorry to hear of Chris’s passing. I enjoyed his sustainability class very much his passion for his field of work was both infectious and highly thought provoking and a very nice man.

  11. I am so sad after hearing the news of Chris’s passing. He was a wealth of knowledge and made learning about livablity so informative and in a way that you could retain the information. He will be sadly missed.

  12. This new is truly shocking.

    We all think that life will simply go in forever but sadly this is not the case.

    I wish Dr Chris’s family strength during this very difficult time.


    Derek Collins
    LJ Hooker Bracken Ridge

  13. Our team having recently completed the LJ Hooker Liveability Training with Chris and Cecille, were all saddened and shocked when they turned their computers on and read their emails this morning.

    Every now and then we lose someone unexpectedly that has impacted the lives of many in a positive way. Chris’s passion for the planet and the people in it spread to whoever he came in contact with. We are grateful that we had the pleasure and saddened on his passing.

    Paula and team at LJ Hooker Victoria Park

  14. This is solemn news. Chris has had, and will continue to have a meaningful and positive impact on the Real Estate industry and the way in which Australians interact with our environment. From all of us at LJ Hooker, thank you Chris. You will be missed.

  15. We are shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Dr Chris Reardon. Condolences from the team at Bondi Beach. Our sympathy goes out to his family at this sad time.

  16. So sad at the news that the big fella has moved on. Chris and I did our PhDs simultaneously at the Institute for Sustainable Futures. With our similar names, it was inevitable that we would form a bond. He became Christopher Charles and I became Christopher John, although we also played around with Big Chris and Little Chris. 🙂

    He was an incredibly generous spirit and I loved our conversations about sustainability, life and everything. The Your Home project was so important for the industry and for our Institute, and it also helped me put food on the table when I was a poor PhD student.

    I will miss you Christopher Charles, but I’m glad you lived life to the fullest while you were here.

  17. Working with Chris on Your Home as an editor and sometime co-author was always stimulating and productive. The man didn’t bullshit and he knew his stuff. And he was always positive. Chris was a legend. A beautiful bloke (and physically twice my size!).
    This morning’s news was a profound shock. He leaves a big hole in the world, but the value of his work and influence will live on.
    Vale Chris

  18. Oh hell I’m gonna miss this grumpy old bugger. He did good things, told good stories and drank good wine. He almost took as long to finish his PhD as I did. It all started to go wrong for us when we began discussing epistemology. But then things recovered and he got there in the end and then some. The world won’t be the same, but then nothing lasts forever.

  19. It’s with great sadness that we at the Institute for Sustainable Futures say goodbye to our beloved, talented and irrepressible colleague Chris Reardon. The world just won’t be the same without you Chris!

    Without you Chris, I wouldn’t be where I am and doing what I love. You rescued me from an architectural office to work on Your Home, the groundbreaking project that would later win several awards. This success was pretty much all down to your vision and passion. You were my teacher and mentor. You were inspiring, funny, generous and sometimes a grumpy bugger too, but an extremely loveable one. You stuck out a PhD at ISF, as if your stellar career wasn’t enough. You never stopped striving for change and giving a damn.

    Everyone called you the ‘big fella’ – big in stature, but even bigger in spirit. In fact, I would call you ecological in spirit. You understood the interconnectedness of all things, and the profound responsibility it is to be human. And you acted on it. It is people like you that make the world a wonderful place.

    Your legacy will live on, big fella.

  20. We mourn the loss of mate and comrade Dr Chris Reardon
    It saddens me to announce the death of my close friend and colleague Dr Chris Reardon, who passed away at his keyboard on Monday 17 November 2014.

    Chris and I had shared many adventures in the struggle to make the world a more sustainable place for humanity and the other species we share it with. He was, in short, a legend in the sustainability community.

    To my knowledge, the only recipient of TWO Bankisa Awards, the principal author of the acclaimed Your Home Technical manual and associated series of publications (for which he won his first Banksia, with Caitlin McGee and the Institute for Sustainable Futures), author, columnist, raconteur, lover of good red wine, and lately one of the two powerhouses of the whirlwind of change that is storming through the residential real estate industry in the form of the Liveability project (with LJ Hooker’s magnificent Cecille Weldon, with whom last week he shared his second Banksia Award).

    He and I shared the sustainability portfolio for Building Designers Australia, and Chris had created and delivered many wonderful training packages for those of us who design and build things. Together we delivered the HIA’s Greensmart training in its early years, before running away with agenda (that is, keeping it up to date). We didn’t get asked back, which we wore as a badge of honour. The list of things we did together is less than half as long as the things he did on his own – he was always up to something new.

    He contributed a wonderful chapter and a case study to my recently published How to Rethink Building Materials. We co-wrote (with much squabbling!) an article in the latest issue of Sanctuary magazine on designing for heat waves. And after an absence of several years while following up on his high profile academic career, he recently returned to his core craft of building design, the completion of which projects some of us will have to step up to help with as an honourable ‘in memorium’ work.

    We will miss him, even in his more rambunctious moments, and certainly in his times of incisive wisdom. I will miss him as a mate, collaborator, colleague and co-conspirator. Big shoes for the rest of us to fill.

    Dick Clarke


  21. Beyond what has said in recent times he has been instrumental in leading positive change in the real estate industry as co-creator and co-facilitator of the recently awarded Liveability real estate specialist training. I am so grateful he lived to see the Banksia award we received last week. It was a privilege to work with him and see his work widen its scope and impact into a whole new industry. Of course we argued all the time but we both knew the greater good that would come of it as we found the common ground to communicate sustainability more effectively. He did everything with future generations always in his sights and has left an enormous legacy which will live on. He was a great friend and I will miss him terribly

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