Digby Hall has been appointed principal sustainability consultant NSW with Umow Lai.
He was previously with Aurecon for two years and also founded his own company, Synergy, which he ran for more than five years until 2012 after leaving a 10-year stint with Woods Bagot.
Mr Hall is a strong sustainability advocate and a contributor to debate through a number of articles, including with The Fifth Estate.
He has a background that includes green certifications, master planning, creation of internal sustainability rating systems, training delivery and high-level advice in the field.
Mr Hall told The Fifth Estate the attraction to Umow Lai was because sustainability was “part of core business; they have a well recognised brand for green buildings, a strong focus on design and a desire to continue to lead industry innovation and progress”.
He said the company was also on a “steady and measured growth path – large enough to bring some serious knowledge and experience to the table, small enough to still be hungry, creative and enthusiastic. In short there were several signals that told me I’d be in good company.”
His background as an architect also meant that his primary lens is to see the world as “interconnected” elements.
“I see it as the sustainability leader’s responsibility to bring all those parts together in a way that supports the design vision and client goals whilst finding the best human and ecological outcomes possible,” he said. “Not every project is going to ‘go for green’ but every project can benefit from an integrated design process.”
He will also continue to work on the GBCA’s faculty and assessment panels, and hopes to further capacity in the sustainable infrastructure field.
“I’m also being encouraged to remain active in our community by sharing learning with the industry, holding knowledge-sharing events, and even writing more thought pieces for The Fifth Estate.”
Umow Lai director Ken Loh told The Fifth Estate the company expected most of its growth to be in Brisbane in the coming period in sectors “across the board”. The office there had doubled in size from 20 to 40 people in the past 12 months. Staff numbers were steady in Sydney at 25 and in Melbourne at 80.
Fellow director Dominic Lai said major projects in Brisbane included the Tattersall’s building and other work in the corporate and education sectors. In New Zealand the company was working on a major laboratory in Christchurch in conjunction with local building services engineering company Cosgroves.