Tessa Meyer named NZGBC Future Thinker of the Year

17 April 2020

Tessa Meyer, a corporate responsibility advisor at Auckland Council’s development arm Panuku Development Auckland, has been crowned the 2020 Future Thinker of the Year.

Now in its second year, the Future Thinker of the Year is awarded to a student or young professional who demonstrates environmental knowledge and leadership, and recognises success and passion for greener, better buildings.

“I’m ecstatic to receive this recognition. It’s a chance to contribute to the green building industry and help grow our movement at a critical time,” Tessa Meyer said.

The award, sponsored by Bayleys Real Estate and Mott MacDonald, forms part of a calendar of events put on by the New Zealand Green Building Council’s Future Thinkers network.

This year’s finalists included PhD candidate at the School of Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington, Ged Finch, University of Auckland civil engineering student Hannah Wu, and graduate building services engineer at WSP Rochelle Kirby.


“I’ve got a lot of admiration and respect for the other finalists and the leadership they’re showing in their respective areas. I’m excited to work with them, our wider cohort and NZGBC to promote the programme for our young professionals and students. “

While plans for an awards evening at AUT involving presentations by the four finalists were skittled by Covid-19, the process was taken online and the six judges Lloyd Budd, Warner Brunton, Andrea Davison, Te Ari Prendergast, Jennifer Whittle, and Kate Boylan had the chance to speak and ask questions directly over a recorded conference call.

That was then streamed as part of a live announcement of the winner.

Lloyd Budd, director for Bayleys Commercial & Industrial in Auckland, said he learned a lot from the ideas put forward throughout the process.

“I’d like to firstly thank all the applicants that have taken the time out of their schedules to apply for this year’s Future Thinker awards. Even though there can only be one winner, we learn a lot from the applications you put forward and it does challenge the thinking of even the most advanced environmental thinkers in our panel.”

After their discussion, which included ideas for what the Government should be investing in during the Covid-19 recovery and reflections on the built environment in isolation, the judges crowned Tessa Meyer this year’s winner.

“The judges really appreciated her attention to the social and cultural aspects of sustainability,” judge and 2019 Future Thinker of the Year Kate Boylan said.

“We also liked that Tessa mentioned building the confidence of young people in our industry, which is exactly what we’d like to achieve.”

New Zealand Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles said the enthusiasm shown throughout the awards for healthy low carbon buildings was a huge positive for the future of construction and development in Aotearoa.

“It’s great to see so many bright minds entering the industry and championing green building. We need to embrace and nurture our future thinkers as we transition to low carbon healthy homes and buildings. There’s passion there and bright ideas.

“We’re thrilled to provide a platform for them to collaborate, learn, and push for a better Aotearoa. Tessa will be a brilliant Future Thinker of the Year and we look forward working with her."

Tessa Meyer

Tessa Meyer is a corporate responsibility advisor at Panuku Development Auckland where she leads sustainability solutions across a variety of projects, all of which directly contribute to Auckland’s transition to a climate resilient, healthy and low carbon city. She led the first Green Star - Communities ratings in Aotearoa and Panuku’s world-first volume certification. Tessa has worked on an economic analysis tool to incorporate social, environmental and economic benefits in holistic decision-making regarding community investments and urban development. She has been involved in waste minimisation projects, including a zero-waste town centre strategy and piloting construction waste management targets. Recently she has successfully completed Panuku’s Toitū Envirocare carbonreduce certification with a base-year emissions inventory and management plan and lead internal behaviour change campaigns at Panuku.