What have our Future Thinkers been up to in 2020?

27 November 2020

It’s been a busy year for our group of students and young professionals making their way in the green building industry.

Tessa Meyer, Future Thinker of the Year 2020, has been making waves

Tessa has blown us away with her commitment to her sustainability mahi and we’ve loved watching her use her platform this year to make her voice heard. She’s been featured in Architecture Now, wowed us as a panellist during Vision Week, and spoken straight to NZGBC members as part of a webinar on Building a better, healthier, greener Aotearoa post COVID-19. We’re excited to have her wrap up the year for Future Thinkers at our AGM in Auckland and Green Speak Wellington.

We’ve met up to learn together and make connections

There has been a raft of cool events for our Future Thinkers in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Te Whanganui-ā-Tara Wellington over the course of 2020. We’d like to extend a massive thank you to our sponsors, Mott MacDonald and Bayleys Real Estate for supporting our young people and making these events possible.

January 2020: A closer look at the landfill levy

We got together in Wellington to learn about the construction and demolition waste problem in Aotearoa, take a look at the landfill levy proposals from the Ministry for the Environment, and reflect together on what to include in submissions. Some of these thoughts made their way into the response submitted by the NZGBC.

February 2020: Indigenous representation in the built environment, Bayleys House, Auckland


We heard from a panel of designers and engineers in Auckland about how we, as makers of the built environment, can support the use of tikanga Māori principles in the way we design and build our urban spaces. Read more about what we learnt from Elisapeta Heta, Maia Ratana, and Josephine Clarke.

March 2020: Green homes – a crash course on sustainable design, University of Auckland


We collaborated with the Sustainable Futures Collective at University of Auckland to bring together a panel of experts and learn the basics we need to know on home design. Quick fire sessions focused in on energy use, materials choice, construction and demolition waste, water management, and environmental certification schemes. Big thanks to Future Thinker Priscila Besen for organising!

April 2020: Future Thinker of the Year online award ceremony!

When the country went into lockdown, we took our much-anticipated Future Thinker of the Year awards online. It was our pleasure to announce Tessa Meyer as our Future Thinker of the Year for 2020 and hear from her, and the other finalists, Ged Finch, Hannah Wu, and Rochelle Kirby throughout the process.

June 2020: LCAQuick online workshop

Jarred Butler, one of our expert Future Thinkers, gave us a rundown on the background of lifecycle analysis and how to use LCAQuick to conduct a life cycle analysis on a building. If you missed Jarred’s demo, check out the recording here.

September 2020: Wellington School of Architecture sustainable research showcase for Green Campus Day


As celebration of Green Campus Day, Future Thinker Ged Finch organised a showcase of the latest sustainable architectural research. We heard presentations from the students encompassing the full spectrum of environmentally sustainable design, from building energy performance, alternative materials, co-housing, implementation of the circular economy, and prefabrication. Watch the recording here.

September 2020: Policy for a green built environment, Sustainability Trust, Wellington

We heard from a panel of experts in Wellington about upcoming policy that will change the way we create our built environments; the Building for Climate Change programme, Wellington’s Spatial Plan, RMA Reform, and the Kāinga Ora carbon neutral housing programme.

Coffee catch ups

We’ve been catching up regularly in Wellington and Auckland, COVID-19 alert levels permitting, for coffee before work as a place for kōrero, connecting, and getting inspired. These casual catch ups are a great place to get to know each other and we look forward to seeing more of you along in 2021.

Shout outs for the achievements of our Future Thinkers!

Jack Steele, Kaito Paetz, and Cherelle Fuamatu joined the NZGBC as our summer interns 2021!

Kate Boylan, our Future Thinker of the Year 2019, joined Tessa as a panellist during Vision Week and has recently been named on the University of Auckland 40 under 40 Influencers list.

Rochelle Kirby, one of our finalists for Future Thinker of the Year 2020, was shortlisted for the international CIBSE Graduate of the Year award.

Bipin Tom Thomas has been announced as the winner of the CIBSE ANZ Mark Griffin Award – 2020 Student of the Year.

Ged Finch, one of our finalists for Future Thinker of the Year 2020, took out the Going Circular Award  from the Sustainable Business Network for his modular framing system – X-Frame, and was a finalist in the Change Makers category. The X-Frame system has been accepted into a nine-month Circular Economy Programme with Innovyz.

Negin Imani has had her PhD research on biomimicry published on Newsroom – Houses that could function like plants.

Arden Callagher took out Top in World in AS Level Design and Technology at The Cambridge International Outstanding Leaders Awards.

Luke Bailey launched a podcast series, Sustainable Cities, where he interviews people transforming the industry.

Jarred Butler hosted an awesome webinar for Future Thinkers on LCAQuick.

Tessa Meyer relocated to the best city in Aotearoa (Wellington), to take up a new role as Programme Sustainability Lead, iReX Terminals at KiwiRail.


If you'd like to get join Future Thinkers, set up a Future Thinker group at your workplace, host a Future Thinker event visit www.nzgbc.org.nz/About...

Special thanks to principal sponsors for their ongoing support