leadership in sustainability prize

The 2019 David Oppenheim Award | Parliament of Victoria Members’ Annexe | Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design | Vic | Photographer: John Gollings

About the Prize

leadership in sustainability prize

This prize recognises individuals and/or groups demonstrating exceptional leadership and an outstanding contribution to the advancement of sustainability of the built environment.

Entrants must be financial members of the Institute.

find out more

Maitland Riverlink | CHROFI with McGregor Coxall | NSW | Photographer: Simon Wood

Entrants can be nominated or may self nominate for the prize.

Denton Corker Marshall Studio | Denton Corker Marshall | Vic | Photographer: Shannon McGrath

Entry is via an online form.

King Bill | Austin Maynard Architects | Photographer: Derek Swalwell

Find out more about what the judges are looking for.

2022 Leadership in Sustainability Prize | Dr Kenneth Yeang
2021 Leadership in Sustainability Prize joint winner | Tone Wheeler | Photographer: Wheeler Studios
2022 Leadership in Sustainability Prize Winner | Kenneth Yeang


Allianz Partners Workplace | BVN | Photographer: Christopher Frederick Jones
Allianz Partners Workplace | BVN | Photographer: Christopher Frederick Jones

Who can participate

Entrants can be nominated or may apply (self-nominate) for this prize.

Individuals and/or groups will need to demonstrate their exceptional leadership and outstanding contribution to the advancement of sustainability of the built environment.


About the Process

To enter, please provide the following materials via the online entry form:

  • A statement of excellence addressing one or more of the above criteria.
  • Curriculum vitae of no more than two A4 pages, which describe the nominee’s educational qualifications, relevant, career history and experience.
  • The name and contact details of a minimum of two nominees, or referees, with declaration of interest.
 Entrants must be financial members of the Institute.
The 2019 Emil Sodersten Award | Denton Corker Marshall Studio | Denton Corker Marshall | Victoria | Photographer: Shannon McGrath

judging criteria

Blackwood St Bunker | Clare Cousins Architects | Photographer: Lisbeth Grossman

what the Judges look for

Nominations should meet the following criteria:

  • creation of and advancement of knowledge through research and education
  • development and deployment of effective advocacy and policy
  • development and implementation of effective practice
  • engagement of industry and the community with this knowledge, advocacy or practice.

2022 Winner

Congratulations to Dr Kenneth Yeang

The Australian Institute of Architects recognises that the advancement of sustainability in architecture and urban design can, and is, happening through a range of inputs, all of which play their unique and valuable part. The 2022 Leadership in Sustainability Prize is awarded to Dr Kenneth Yeang, who for decades, has responded to the twin planetary emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss, and who–through his pioneering actions–has led a paradigm shift in sustainable built environment research and practice, inspiring a generation of architects, planners, and engineers in Australia and worldwide.

As an architect, planner, prolific author, and ecologist, Yeang’s early experiments with bioclimatic and passive design bucked trends. In the last decades of last century, when so many large-scale buildings were the by-product of mechanical and artificial systems, Yeang instead sought greater harmony between architecture and nature. Yet access to nature, use of vegetation and natural ventilation within skyscrapers presented many challenges. His career might, therefore, be considered a series of experiments to decarbonise large-scale projects through passive and ecological design strategies–theorised, implemented, tested, and disseminated through his extensive publication and teaching–including by invitation to Australian universities.

Yeang has been recognised through the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1996), the Institute’s International Architecture Award (1998), the Prinz Claus Award (1999) and the UIA Auguste Perret Prize (1999). “His pioneering research and buildings, combining architecture and nature, have provided inspiration for a generation of architects and planners concerned with ecology and the future of the built environment.”1



1. Mohsen Mostafavi (Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design 2008–2019), aptly explains Yeang’s contribution in a review of his book: Saving the Planet by Design (Routledge, 2019).



Tony Giannone FRAIA – Australian Institute of Architects National President | Director, Tectvs

Sarah Lyn Rees RAIA Grad. – Australian Institute of Architects First Nations Advisory Working Group Chair | Jackson Clements Burrows Architects

Dr Melinda Dodson LFRAIA – Australian Institute of Architects Past National and ACT President | Canberra Low Carbon Housing Challenge Founder | Director, Melinda Dodson Architects

Mark Lusis Affiliate RAIA – Associate Principal, Arup

2022 Leadership in Sustainability Prize Winner | Kenneth Yeang

2021 winners

Congratulations to joint winners, Caroline Pidcock & Tone Wheeler

The 2021 award for Leadership in Sustainability is jointly awarded to Caroline Pidcock and Tone Wheeler as they were considered to be inseparable in their contributions. They are founders of the movement in Australia to demonstrate how sustainability can be delivered in the built environment. They are both outstanding in the time, energy and creativity they have provided to the profession and to the broader community over several decades. They have led the profession by showing that there is hope in tackling the structures that impede sustainability and by their involvement in demonstration projects that enable everyone to see that sustainability can be cost-effective, inclusive and beautiful.


By contributing to almost every professional and community-based group in New South Wales that has had a sustainability agenda for the built environment, Caroline Pidcock has shown that architects must attack the agenda through civil society. As a result, she has contributed to many government changes in regulations and guidelines, as well as being an effective media spokesperson. Caroline has had academic and professional positions that have enabled her to deliver sustainability outcomes and demonstrate leadership for future generations. She has many awards at state level and has now earned this national recognition.


Tone Wheeler has contributed to leadership in sustainability in education, research, advocacy, community engagement and policy development on a national level. As an academic and researcher, he has helped create many of the guidelines for how to achieve sustainability in the built environment, including the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) and the Building Sustainability Index (BASIX). In advocacy, community engagement and policy development, he has become the voice of architecture through his public speaking, media interviews and regular “Tone on Tuesday” column. Through his architectural practice, Tone has continued to deliver projects that demonstrate his leadership and to be a contributor to the Australian Institute of Architects.

2021 Leadership in Sustainability Prize joint winner | Caroline Pidcock | Photographer: David Iacono
2021 Leadership in Sustainability Prize joint winner | Tone Wheeler | Photographer: Wheeler Studios

2020 Winner

2020: Congratulations to Stephen Choi

Stephen Choi has an extremely diverse career, from education, advocacy and practice. Stephen has been extremely engaged to enable delivery of change within sustainability across multiple areas of the value chain.

Stephen’s academic involvement commenced with the University of East London, continued with UTS before a pivot research project with University of Wollongong and Macquarie University in this Australian-first research managing the retrofit of 185 individual homes, all occupied by low income pensioners. This project has been a key pillar to demonstrate the human face of energy poverty, and the social impact of energy efficiency. Stephen is now an Honorary Fellow of the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre, University of Wollongong.

Stephen has been a long term advocate for sustainability and has been focused from sustainability and design conferences to media such as Australian Financial Review, Sky News and the Guardian. Stephen is focused on “those in society who are usually forgotten, those with the most unmet needs, and those who usually have no access to architects or any professionals more broadly”. This advocacy is part of Stephen’s role as the Executive Director of Living Future Institute of Australia.

What impressed the jury, in particular, was Stephen’s ability to take the principles to practice. Stephen is the Living Building Challenge Manager for Fraser’s Brickworks which is aiming to be the world’s most sustainable shopping centre, and first to achieve the Living Building Challenge™. Brickworks has been recognised with a 6 Star Green Star Design and As-Built v1.1 (Design Review) rating which features Australia’s first rooftop Urban Farm within a shopping centre am is self-sufficient for energy and recycling its own water.

2020 Leadership in Sustainability Prize winner | Stephen Choi

2019 Winner

2019: Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living

The Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living has been one of Australia’s pivotal research and innovation hubs, focused on driving our sector towards not only more sustainable development, but also a globally competitive low-carbon future. The Cooperative Research Centre’s advancement of knowledge through research and education has included training more than one hundred higher-degree research students, developing a much-needed evidence base for policy and planning, and growing an extensive partner network with sustainable built environment peak bodies, ensuring that the research undertaken has real-world impact at building and precinct scales.

From working with councils, property developers and utilities companies to enable better developments and faster approvals to establishing low-carbon programs for schools and businesses, the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living’s leadership in the field has been well recognised. What impressed the jury in particular was its ongoing policy work, including proposed revisions to the building sustainability index, and its collective advocacy work, which has included a number of forums and publications covering local renewables, cooling cities and low-carbon homes for low-income households. The Cooperative Research Centre, in a reasonably short time, has touched a large number of those in the built environment in a positive way.’– Jury Citation 

Gen Y Housing | David Barr Architects | Photographer: Robert Frith