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Researchers shine at Women in Built Environment event

Posted 16 August 2018 - 11:49am

Two CRCLCL project leaders have joined 18 other female built environment professionals at the 2018 Engaging Women in the Built Environment event to shine a light on their inspirational careers. 

Organised by UNSW Built Environment and held at Sydney's Lower Town Hall, the women spoke to a capacity audience of 700 people to highlight the importance of the sector working together to reach 50% women in leadership roles in built environment industries by 2025.

Suzanne Toumbourou, Built EnvironmentCRCLCL Project Leader, Suzanne Toumbourou and Executive Director of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, shared her journey of morphing from  environmental activist to industry executive, in order to bring change from the 'inside', finally finding her niche in the built environment.

"I decided that the best way to make a difference was to engage and collaborate with those you are trying to influence, rather than ‘fight’ them. So I switched to a marketing/business degree and used this education to inform my approach to governance and communication," she said.

Her work with the CRCLCL has resulted in two major reports: Low Carbon High Performance and Building Code Energy Trajectory Project, both put forward industry-led evidence to reduce emissions by improving energy efficiency measures and long-term targets in the National Construction Code.

Dr Vanessa Rauland, whose CRCLCL funded research project developed a unique app called ClimateClever to help schools reduce their carbon footprint, started her talk by describing herself as a "built environment generalist".  She began by illustrating her academic career path, which started with a nature tourism degree in the Australian bush, then to four major cities  - Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm  and Edinburgh where she completed her  "informal degree in the built environment by experiencing how cities work and function."

In Berlin she absorbed the culture and learned the language, but in Amsterdam she embraced academia again, studying her Masters in Environment and Resource Management, which later took her to Stockholm and Edinburgh. She eventually returned to Australia, taking up a research management role at Curtin Univeristy in Perth, where she also completed her PhD. She is now a research fellow at Curtin.   

Sydney's renowned Lord Mayor, Clr Clover Moore, also spoke, sharing her fascinating life journey from a concerned citizen lobbying for a playground to be upgraded in Redfern, to her position today - all while competing in a male dominated, political environment.  As with all the other speakers, she illustrated that passion and the will to see change is a key driver for many women.  

UNSW's Built Environment Dean, Professor Helen Lochhead, announced the CRCLCL's Excellence in High Performance Architecture Postgraduate Project Prize for a female UNSW student who achieves excellence in a Master of Architecture or Master of Sustainable Built Environment design project. The prize will be awarded to the student whose project best addresses criteria relating to high performance architecture and sustainability. The successful student will be announced later this year.

If you missed the event and would like to listen to all the presentations, see the video below.