2022 Future Thinker of the Year shortlist announced

28 April 2022

We are thrilled to announce the six shortlisted applicants for this year's Future Thinker of the Year. There was a brilliant pool of applicants this year with some incredible passion on display, and mahi being done out there in our universities, institutions and workplaces. 

Meet the six who have been shortlisted, all of whom have now put forward a short video sharing their ideas for a more sustainable built environment. 

Zara Balador

I am Zara Balador, and I joined WSP as a sustainability consultant this year. I am also a visiting scholar at Victoria University of Wellington conducting research on sustainable materials. Prior to this role, I worked as an architectural designer, building energy performance/ sustainability advisor, lecturer, and researcher. I am also a member of NZIA, NZGBC and UN Women. 

Sustainability has always been my passion; not to mention that being sustainable is the only way for our society to ensure future generations thrive. During these years of my professional career, I have worked with different actors in this area, from architects and builders to laypeople and students, I have tried to influence others to behave more sustainably, and to increase awareness among them, from family and close friends to colleagues and clients. 

I am a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington where I obtained a PhD in Sustainable Architecture, and I have a master’s degree in Energy & Architecture(equivalent to Building Science). Since 2012 I have been teaching, working and publishing in the area of building science, sustainable architecture, life cycle assessment, building waste management and building energy performance in both Iran and New Zealand. All this research and work experience has led me to become more aware of my environment and learn how to investigate a challenge and find a solution or create opportunities out of it. 

I am also a reviewer for scientific journals (Elsevier, Taylor & Francis and Springer). I have participated in and been awarded prizes in a range of international competitions around Sustainable Design. Among them, I gained third place in The Energy Modelling Olympiad, 2019; and an honourable mention on the theme of Resilience & Sustainability in the VUW Three Minute Thesis Competition, 2018. 

My home town is Tehran, a megacity and the capital of Iran, and I live in beautiful Tauranga. When I am not busy with work, you can find me painting, reading, or writing a book on the results of research in my free time to disseminate ideas on sustainability.

Eloise Blewden

Kia Ora, my name is Eloise Blewden, I am a fourth-year Master of Architecture student at Victoria University of Wellington. 

I am a passionate learner and environmentalist, and a green building enthusiast. I have always been passionate about holistic sustainability and throughout the course of my degree have started to direct this passion into sustainability within the built environment. I am interested in the space of low carbon, low waste, prefabricated, and passively designed buildings. I aim to delve further into the green building field next year when I complete my thesis.

For the past two years, I have worked at GoodFor, a New Zealand-owned, package-free, wholefoods refillery. I often speak to this role as I love my involvement here. This role allows me to regularly connect with a New Zealand community that shares my passions and are attempting to live more sustainably every day. I am inspired by companies such as GoodFor who have built a successful business with honest sustainability at the forefront.

Outside of my studies and work I am a social person who loves the outdoors. I enjoy spending my spare time with family and friends and love being a part of the student community in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. I enjoy running, tramping, and skiing and take every opportunity to explore new parts of Wellington, the outdoors, and Aotearoa.

Megan Burfoot

My name is Megan Burfoot, I am a 25 years old female born and raised in beautiful New Zealand. I attended Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to study an Honours degree in Architectural Engineering. Throughout my degree, I worked in construction project management, illumination engineering and mathematics tutoring. After graduating in 2018, I went on to study a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering at AUT. I am a fast learner with so much ambition and intelligence. I want to continually learn and upskill in earth science/ecology/climate change, to offer in-depth multi-disciplinary knowledge to the built environment team. I am involved in the ecological community as a volunteer and will continue this work as a way to upskill and give back. I have diverse teaching competencies across both architecture and engineering. These include sustainable/passive/green architecture, indoor environmental quality (lighting, acoustics, thermal, air quality), site/climate/solar analysis, architectural/engineering software, and construction technology. I have taught numerous courses at university level; construction technology, construction management, quantity surveying software, architectural technologies and architectural design and sustainability.

I am a nature lover, environmentalist and animal rights activist, and I strongly believe that one person can make a difference. If one person’s actions inspire someone, their actions will inspire a third person and so on. I will always stick up for what I believe in and give a voice to those without one. I question the normalities of society and make my own decisions regarding what is right or wrong. Ignorance is not bliss, and with ignorance, our society and the human race will fail to progress sustainably. In my spare time, I learn about, research and volunteer for NZ ecology projects. When I volunteer, I gain a deeper appreciation for service and the benefits that it provides; social, environmental and well-being! I want to share this appreciation with others, and I am always deeply inspired to use these tools to make a greater difference to our community. I want to discover how architectural and urban design could facilitate meaningful relationships between humans and other species. I want to study how we can reduce the impact our built environment has on its surrounding ecology. The future of our built environment must embrace a democracy of people, nature, animals, micro-organisms and minerals.

Jasmine Fletcher

Hi, I am Jasmine, I have completed a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, a Graduate Certificate in Design Environments, and a Master of Architectural Science at Victoria University of Wellington. During my study, I was employed by the university to tutor Building Science papers for 2ndand 3rdyear students. Throughout my summer breaks, I also worked at architectural firms gaining valuable real-world practical experience. I graduated in 2021 and have just completed my first year as a Sustainable Design Engineer at TM Consultants in Christchurch. 

My passion for sustainability began in my undergraduate studies where we were challenged to problem solve and think creatively. Sustainability has always been at the core of my design projects. During my postgraduate studies, I developed a simple workflow/predictive tool for daylight and thermal performance in high-rise residential buildings which could be used to meet or exceed performance standards in New Zealand. It uses a series of variables and design combinations to establish ways to achieve optimal performance and enables the user to find tailored design combinations. The goal was to facilitate users to reliably assess code minimum benchmarks for daylight and thermal performance, but also to examine issues of thermal comfort and glare that directly affect users’ comfort and enjoyment as this is not currently covered by the Building Code’s minimum performance standards.

As a sustainable design engineer at TM consultants, I am involved in a variety of commercial and residential projects that focus on providing energy efficient strategies that maximise the health and comfort for occupants. I work alongside architects, engineers, and building owners influencing design decisions that lead to reduced carbon footprints, lower operational energy costs and ensuring that in the process we create healthier buildings for us to live and work in.

Kaito Paetz

I joined eCubed in May 2021 as a Graduate Mechanical & ESD Engineer following a summer working as a Technical Intern at the New Zealand Green Building Council. I studied at the University of Auckland where I graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) specialising in Mechanical Engineering.

From as early as I can remember, the idea of green buildings and sustainability has been a part of my life. Whether this was travelling around the United States with my family at the age of 8 as my father undertook research on local government policy to increase uptake of green building practices or being part of the inaugural environmental committee at intermediate school. It has always been an important topic to me.

Today, I work at one of New Zealand’s leading consultancies in delivering sustainable solutions for buildings. The majority of my work so far has been Environmentally Sustainable Design related as I approach one year at the company. I find this area of work interesting as I develop my skills in thermal, energy and daylight modelling to optimise building design as well as provide services in the certification of green buildings.

This is an exciting industry to be a part of as Aotearoa sets on its path to meet its net-zero goal. The challenge is here, now and I’m hoping to make a positive difference as the time to change our approach has reached the point of urgency.

Kim Mi Yeoh 

Kia ora! My name is Kim. I am an architecture student at The University of Auckland. 

I recently completed theBachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) degree at the end of 2021 ranked with a first-class GPA. Over the past year, I have been humbled to receive the ‘First in Course’ award for ARCHTECH315 (Design Technology) as well as a Summer Research Scholarship (CAI030) that provided me with valuable resources and expertise to elevate my passion for carbon-conscious architecture. As a recent graduate, I was stoked to be offered an Architectural Designer position at the firm, W10 Architects, along with a Research Assistant role in a new BRANZ Building Research Project exploring the sustainable management of plastic waste on construction sites in New Zealand: a co-operative solution to improve on the cradle to grave approach.

My enthusiasm in the field of Architectural Technology and Design has been amplified by exposure to a range of incredible opportunities. Opening these windows has motivated my decision to take a gap year to explore, learn, and inspire through the various projects I am involved in. I believe that this aperture will fuel a fire of inspiration for my thesis in prospects of international study options for the master's degree in Architectural Studies(MArch(Prof)).

A huge thanks to our Future Thinker sponsors