Congratulations everyone involved in the Sustainable Habitat Challenge

Posted on November 23, 2009


I had the honour of being the warm-up act at the Sustainable Habitat Challenge Awards dinner on Friday (see ODT list of winners).    It was a fantastic night, and not just because of the wine, music and train ride.

The projects described were fabulous.    Although I appreciated the “alternative” buildings, the ones I enjoyed the most were more ordinary – the ones that engaged large teams in building more sustainable houses.  These houses might not be revolutionary, but are a big step in the right direction, and I’m sure we’ll see these students going out into the workforce knowing that better building is achievable.  Next year, let’s make sure that this is the baseline for all the buildings built by carpentry students nationwide (hopefully alongside another “sustainable” house to continue to push the envelope).

I enjoyed the student engagement beyond the building disciplines.  I especially liked the interaction between the landscape architecture students and the design students that resulted in the cheeky Manu Pango Peg (after the landscape folks insisted on not having a washing-line).

I enjoyed the stories of wider student and community engagement – the judges telling stories of wading through hordes of people from the wider community come to see and learn from the houses.

I was impressed that the wider professions got involved.  The Housewise challenge led by Housing NZ was extremely worthwhile, and I hope this small team gets noticed within their corporate body.  This team now has a more important challenge:  1 house retrofitted, 69,000 to go (and then get these noticed as a beacon for the other 1.7 million).   Similarly, I enjoyed talking with the Director of Engineering from IPENZ Charles Willmot about the direction they are taking.

But what impressed me most of all, was that for the first time ever, I was able to have more than half the room still standing at the end of my series of questions.    More than half the room agreed with this statement (and many of the others were excused as not being directly involved in teaching).

9. I am currently integrating Education for Sustainability into my teaching.

This fact alone makes me very proud to have been associated with Shac from the beginning.    It makes me very proud that Otago Polytechnic led this amazing initiative.   Well done Tim,  D’Arcy and Nic – you’ve done good.  Very good.    Shac shows again the huge impact of the handprint of education in preparing sustainable practitioners, and of Otago Polytechnic’s leadership role in this.   Let’s hope we can do it again.