Ken McBryde

JOBS CHATTER: One of Australia’s most sustainably-minded architects, Ken McBryde has joined major American firm Gensler, with an eye to maximising his positive effect on the planet.

McBryde will act as a design director, guiding Gensler’s local operations down an ambitiously sustainable path – when he’s not pursuing his other passion for racing old motorcycles that is. 

Having folded his own consulting firm, Architectural Physics, McBryde said he was looking forward to operating at scale rather than “tinkering around the edges.”

“All my career I’ve been on a mission to help with the sustainability of the planet, and to join the world’s largest firm that’s where I can have some impact,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to do it in a range of different ways as a consultant and with small practice. But it dawned on me when I got an invitation from Gensler because of my sustainability credentials and my modern methods of construction – they want that in Australia and in the region and we really can make an impact.”

Gensler has been in Australia for around seven years, with an established office in Sydney who McBryde will be joining on a range of larger scale mixed use projects already underway.

The team will also conduct a six star Green Star rated fit-out of Facebook’s Australian offices and a five star rated fit-out of Yahoo’s offices.

“They’re a global practice, but we are focused locally, so I’m the local bit. They have a well established firm here which does primarily workplace and strategy, so I will build the architecture practice in Australia.”

McBryde’s interest in sustainability started at a young age. Having two scientists for parents and growing up in the country, sustainable living was imbued as common sense.

“Because you’re growing up in the country, you’re aware of these things. You don’t waste stuff,” he said.

“My Dad was way ahead of his time. What people considered to be junk he would keep and he would turn it into stuff. What we were actually doing was making old motorcycles to race.”  

When he first entered the game after studying architecture in the 80s, McBryde says sustainability was less than an afterthought, barely registering in the minds of most clients.

Thankfully he says, from around the turn of the millennium, all that has changed.

“Finally the beancounters have demonstrated that it all makes good commercial sense, so clients want it now and thankfully tenants and occupants of homes demand it,’ he said.

McBryde is looking to build not just by minimising environmental footprint, but actually leaving a positive impact, by using materials that are carbon positive and can form part of a circular economy.

Not a waste

Meanwhile our very own Pete Shmigel, author of The Fifth Estate’s talking rubbish column, has joined environmental consultancy firm MRA.

MRA director Mike Ritchie welcomed Pete to the fold, lauding his experience in the waste industry, including as former head of the Australian Council of Recycling.

“This is a time of massive change in waste in Australia. We now have a national Minister for Waste and a Plan, agreed by all levels of government, to achieve 80 per cent diversion from landfill by 2030. Only nine years away,” Ritchie said.

“Peter will help businesses and government achieve that Plan. It is a massive opportunity for jobs growth and sustainable development.”

Our pick of the jobs

Penrith Council is looking for an engagement officer to help with community engagement on its urban heat-tackling Cooling the City project.

You will be helping Western Sydney tackle its considerable urban heat issue through the planting of over 5000 trees which you will help facilitate through community engagement.

If you love tress, preaching the good word to residents and schools, about the benefits of greening and cooling Penrith down should be a walk in the park.

Plus, the council also prides itself on understanding work-life balance and is the proud winner of the 2020 Local Government Excellence in People and Culture Award.

And finally, the not-for-profit Australian Packaging Covenant of Australia (APCO) needs a project administrator to join them in reducing the environmental impact of packaging.

APCO are partly responsible for the recycling information you see on product packets in Australia, an initiative their new hire will help coordinate.

It will involve educating industries and consumers, responding to enquiries from members, and recruiting new ones, with the worthy aim of reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfill.

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