With outfits like Google and Salesforce jumping onto the Living Building Challenge this is a green building growth phenomenon. In a signal it wants to be a regional leader in this fast-growing space, global engineering and development consultancy, Mott MacDonald, has hired someone from the very top of her field to be its first-ever head of regenerative design for the Asia Pacific region.
Mott MacDonald, the UK-headquartered consultancy, which is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the world, hasn’t hired just anyone for its tilt in this exciting emerging space. It’s secured Amanda Sturgeon, the former chief executive officer of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), which is responsible for the Living Buildings Challenge.
Representing the platinum level of all green building standards (although the program has now expanded to include products, food and more), buildings that pass muster must generate more renewable energy than they use; capture and treat their own water; incorporate non-toxic, locally and appropriately sourced materials; and operate efficiently, equitably and beautifully.
Sturgeon told The Fifth Estate that in her former position, she was responsible for scaling the tool from small, off-grid homes to bigger projects, with the Brickworks shopping centre in Melbourne and the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre at the University of Wollongong evidence of her progress towards this goal.
She also oversaw the release of the volume program offered by the ILFI, which is designed to bring more building types into the Living Buildings fold. This saw dozens of companies signing up to zero carbon buildings, including big companies like Google and Salesforce.
After that project, Sturgeon felt the tug back to practice where she hopes to get “back in touch with the levers are you can pull to scale something like Living Building.”
She says she was also attracted to the idea of bringing her expertise in regenerative and biophilic design to projects on the scale that Mott MacDonald work on, and working with the experienced and diverse sustainability teams at the firm that sit in each sector.
The return to Australia from the US also held some appeal for Sturgeon, who has also wanted to return to the country.
The position was titled accordingly so that Sturgeon’s work would cover more than climate change and environment but also social outcomes, equity and more.
“It’s really about design that gives back to people and the planet and doesn’t just make things a little less bad, but looks at a vision of giving back and a vision of restoring and recovering.”
Sturgeon says that the engineering firm has been particularly active on climate and sustainability in Europe and now wants to show strong leadership in the Asia Pacific region.