20 Years of Membership with HIA!

The Sustainable Team are honoured to receive and announce an impressive milestone: Achieving 20 Years of Membership with Housing Industry Association (HIA).

We proudly endorse our long and strong relationship with HIA, where in 20 years the Sustainable Team have received over 40 HIA GreenSmart Awards, both locally and nationally.

What a great time to reflect on Sustainable’s 20 Year HIA Membership with one of Sustainable’s proudest moments in their early years — 2003 HIA National GreenSmart Building of the Year Award. CEO Brett McKenzie and the Sustainable Team were awarded the National Building of the Year in Perth for the 2002/2003 Brookwater Landmark Display Home (refer to images below). This was, and still is, a notable achievement in Brett McKenzie’s career and for the Sustainable Team as a whole.

Thank you HIA, Sustainable take pride in sharing this longstanding relationship.

Mental health amongst the Construction Industry

The Sustainable Team has certainly endorsed Housing Industry Association’s (HIA) transparency with the impeding challenges and mental health concerns currently suppressing the Australian Construction Industry. 

We’ve certainly been weathering this perfect storm.

Brett McKenzie | CEO

In the HIA Building News Magazine (October, Issue 3), HIA President Queensland Peter Wood wrote a raw and honest industry account, titled ‘Take care of each other as we weather the storm.’ Wood’s statement unravels the truth about what has been happening in the construction industry over the last 18 months, describing it as “one prolonged crisis”, whilst also placing a large emphasis on mental health. A few of Wood’s most striking statements are detailed below.

As our industry fights on during 2021, there is an uncomfortable truth emerging. Many of us are simply not okay.

…construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than from a workplace accident.

The pandemic and subsequent HomeBuilder boom have meant that many of us have had to deal with consistent challenges over an extended period of time. Many of us are drained and feel as though we are ‘going to battle’ every day.

The last 18 months have been some of the most challenging that any of us have ever faced. The pressure is real, and the pressure is constant for many parts of the industry.

HIA Economics tells us that we are roughly nine months into a 12 month cycle of material and labour supply issues. Things will improve, but the ride to get us to that point is rough, and our industry is a bit battle-scarred.

Peter Wood | HIA President Queensland

Sustainable CEO Brett McKenzie has been managing these industry challenges closely with our clients, staff and sub-traders, and has been open about that since early October of 2020. These are the exact concerns that Brett has had with what is ahead for the industry; and the ‘Perfect Storm’ has certainly happened.  

Brett McKenzie said,

It feels like we are another six to 12 months off of being able to come out of the other side of it, so it is absolutely critical that we manage this by looking out for each other, being transparent and honest with our clients, suppliers and work force.

With more significant roll out ahead, it is important for us at Sustainable to communicate this with our Team of employees, trades, suppliers and clients, and for our clients to support us as we support them.

And that dove tails into a really important factor of what we do from a long-term master planning life cycle of our Sustainable Homes — creating spaces that provide not only refuge, but inspirational spaces that deliver all the emotions of life; so our buildings are not just living and breathing, they are also supportive and provide structure for us to keep a healthy mind. 

Even though our Sustainable Team has faced many challenges — in terms of supply and demand with chasing materials and the fragmented pressure of the industry — our business operates under a well-developed Sustainable D&C Management process, which is solely based on permanent internal training and mentoring. 

This means that we are able to manage these challenges as best as we possibly can for our clients and minimise any cost impediments where possible, as our profiles are well prepared and we are strong believers of what we do for our clients. 

Brett McKenzie continues to express his thoughts on the matter,

It has certainly been frustrating and stressful for everybody. It is a daily management struggle — all the best laid out plans from yesterday at five o’clock turned to crap at five this morning.

Industry standards of fixed price contracts and funding models do not consider a pandemic with rapid rise of costs with no access to materials.

In 2003 we had a massive price increase, but we had a very good supply of materials. Today, we are dealing with rapid cost increases and massive supply shortages, something the Australian construction industry was not prepared for.

Unfortunately the uncertainty and also the already evident situation that is causing some businesses to not be able to weather the “Storm”, thus clients, sub-trades and employees were effected enormously.

The accessibility of materials and all the sorts of pressures being placed on the industry are causing enormous stress, so it is important for us to make sure that we have healthy minds, which is a major passion of our Sustainable Philosophy to design healthy homes.

Personal and mental wellbeing is in our Sustainable DNA. Our passion, since our inception 35 years ago has been to design healthy, sensory homes that promote improved mental wellbeing for all occupants of the home, including visitors. 

Our Sustainable Homes are designed to provide retreat and support that continually regenerates and influences healthy minds. We design homes so that our client’s can live in spaces that are inspirational, to live in spaces that provide retreat, and to live in spaces that allow them to value that space, and for it to be uplifting and healthy to them. 

Sustainable are major supporters of the HIA Charitable Foundation (HIACF) who have partnered with Beyond Blue, providing resources to individuals to help manage mental health in the construction industry. 

For anyone growing up in Australia, a bucket hat is a symbol of protection and exploration.

HIA Charitable Foundation

The latest part of their agenda is their “Bucket Hat Campaign”, which Sustainable have taken part in. The HIACF Bucket Hats are designed to open up conversations across the construction industry and beyond, so that we can keep a healthy mind and feel supported through these challenging times.

If you would like to enquire about purchasing the bucket hats for you or your team, contact: foundation@hia.com.au

Beyond Blue is available 24 hours a day on 1300 224 636 for anyone that needs assistance.

Or the following charities are also available:

Mates in Construction1300 642 111

Lifeline13 11 14 

Sustainable’s Commitment to Training and Opportunity

Training programs are important in delivering and promoting sustainable futures, not only for the construction industry, but for individuals to learn practical skills that are critical to training people up organically. 

Sustainable’s 30-year-long commitment to training and providing opportunities has been paramount since our inception. As part of Brett McKenzie’s (Sustainable CEO) philosophy — if he was never given the opportunity, he would have never been able to be involved in an industry that can make such a difference. 

Sustainable CEO Brett McKenzie said,

“Apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities allow me to impart my critical knowledge of Sustainable Design & Construction onto the emerging generations, influencing the future of the industries.”

This is very important.”

“We need to go ‘back to the future’ to deliver the cutting-edge, human skills required to administer sustainable community housing of the future.” 

For over 30 years, Sustainable has successfully assisted in excess of 20 apprentices and trainees. Most of which have come from local and regional areas, including Ipswich, Warwick, Toowoomba, Gympie and Moonie, with a strong representation of over 7 apprentices from Ipswich Grammar School (IGS). In fact, one of our IGS apprentices became a qualified Tradesman last month, and we have also recently signed on a new school-based apprenticeship with another IGS student. 

In addition, Sustainable has always prided our involvement of recruiting regional apprentices and trainees. It is an absolutely crucial part of our Sustainable operation to provide critical training opportunities to individuals originating from rural areas, where the opportunity is undeniably limited. The Darling Downs (DD) region in particular is where Sustainable has trained a total of 8 successful apprentices, with one of our current DD apprentices due to become a fully qualified Tradesman in early 2022. 

“Due to the changing work environment, in the sense of an industry that has become very fragmented with different processes, with an emerging workforce and short-term thinking, providing training to rural communities creates a barrier for building companies and builders to be committed to training, especially in rural areas,” said Brett McKenzie.

It is critical that we provide opportunities to engage these fresh young minds of the future, to re-shape, re-think and develop new skills and techniques that deliver the Sustainable housing stock required to take charge in our changing and evolving resource costs, and climate management.

Since our inception, Sustainable has been committed to Training & Opportunity to deliver the Sustainable housing stock of the future. 

See our Career Opportunities here: https://www.sustainabledc.au/aboutus/careers/

Our view on the COVID-19 Construction Industry Challenges

Over the past 18 months, COVID-19 has accompanied its many unprecedented challenges on numerous industries and individuals across Australia and the world. 

Notably, however, COVID-19 has imposed massive interstate product price increases in the construction industry. In the early 2000s, the industry experienced similar price increases, and although definitely painful, it was easier to control and manage due to sufficient access to supply. 

Contrary to the current uncertainty amongst the community, with border restrictions and lock downs, Covid has certainly forced pressure onto the construction industry in terms of supply and demand, as most items come to QLD from NSW and Victoria. 

Sustainable CEO Brett McKenzie said, “The industry is undoubtedly and extremely exposed by its vulnerability of a lack of manufacturing in Australia, and more particularly in QLD.”

“There’s also the resource switch, where we have passed off our resources to other countries to develop for us, to then buy them back, waiting in line to markets of greater magnitude, such as Europe and north America.”

“We need to recalibrate our thought process about the supply chain for our industry. From a sustainable future point of view, the core thing for us at Sustainable is to source as many local products as possible, because we know, and it is without doubt, that the currently unmeasured embodied energy will be greatly minimised.”

As part of our Design & Construct management process, the Sustainable Team has been working closely with our clients, trying to circumnavigate some of those industry challenges with design alternatives and strategic purchase of materials. Unfortunately, some of the challenges have been completely unavoidable, placing an intense amount of pressure and time delays on our projects. 

An ability to forecast industry challenges, such as weather changes or supply delays, demonstrates that our team can tack very quickly and be nimble in design, material and specification to combat the market. These are the true benefits of working with a Design & Construct Team such as Sustainable.

Sustainable’s most recent Retrofit at Camp Mountain unfortunately operated at approximately 9-weeks behind schedule. Delays occurred mainly due to key product supply chain manufacturing of engineered products and the componentry industry. The closing of borders and lock downs in the southern states over the last 4 months, only further extended major challenges for both our in-house and on-site teams. Nonetheless, the Sustainable Team have been working extremely hard for all of our clients, trying to maintain delivery times and going beyond client expectations. 

“Our Team’s latest major transformations is of two exceptionally high-powered Sustainable Retrofits, both designed and delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Homes that were once on life support are now well and truly alive as Passive Power Homes.” — Brett McKenzie

Above all, our valued suppliers of numerous years, with some of our partnerships reaching 3-decades, have been tremendously supportive in managing the cost increases and balancing that out for our Sustainable Team and our clients. With their support, Sustainable has successfully managed two amazing outcomes with our Sustainable Retrofit concept, with the homes completed in neighbouring streets at Camp Mountain. 

Mental Health Challenges within the Construction Industry

In recent years, greater awareness of mental health has become increasingly more apparent among workplaces and local communities, especially during the events of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) President Queensland, Peter Wood, models strong mental health awareness for the construction industry in his HIA Building News (Issue 3, 2021) statement. Wood discusses the “uncomfortable truth emerging” amongst the construction industry, signifying the challenges facing an industry traditionally discouraged from emotion mixed with the COVID-19 battle. 

HIA Queensland President Wood says, “Many of us are drained and feel as though we are ‘going to battle’ every day.”

“The last 18 months have been some of the most challenging that any of us have ever faced. The pressure is real, and the pressure is constant for many parts of our industry. A conversation may be all it takes to share the load of someone’s mental burden.”

The Sustainable Team, since our inception, have strongly advocated for mental health and wellbeing through not only workplace ethos, but through our Sustainable home designs, delivering truly mindful, all-inclusive and inspiring homes to live in.

Watch this space for Sustainable CEO Brett McKenzie’s statement on Mental Health within the Construction Industry. 

HIA Charitable Foundation — “Let’s make a change together.”

Visit: https://hia.com.au/hia-community/what-we-do/charitable-foundation

The HIA Charitable Foundation is partnering with Beyond Blue to improve “the mental health and wellbeing of those working in the residential building industry by reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health and encouraging help-seeking behaviours.” In doing so, the HIA ‘Bucket Hat Campaign’ has been introduced to start important mental health conversations with work colleagues, friends and family and to overall support the cause.

If you would like to enquire to purchase the ‘Bucket Hat Campaign’ hats, please contact: foundation@hia.com.au.


“Coming Home” to Pullenvale After 20 Long Years

An unexpected client enquiry invited Sustainable® CEO Brett McKenzie to walk back in time to reflect on one of our finest Custom Design homes, located in idyllic Pullenvale. 

Some weeks ago, Sustainable® received quite a unique enquiry relating to a Sustainable® Custom-built Home from almost 20 years ago. Brett explains it as if he was returning to meet a distant family member.

For me, it was like coming home. It was just amazing to walk into the space and go, WOW! It was, and still is, at the edge of passive design and timeless space. Uplifting Architecture never loses its Spirit.

Brett McKenzie (CEO)

The home was recently purchased by a wonderful family who approached Sustainable® throughout the month of August. Inspired by the property and the home’s obvious design credentials and distinguished detail, the owners wanted to maintain the unique structure of the existing building. Therefore, they sought out the Sustainable® Team (the original design and construction team who created the home) to gain valuable advice and engage with the Sustainable® process for their proposed Retrofitting and minor maintenance project journey. 

It is a very functional and spacious house, and we were keen to maintain those attributes. Also, when we upgrade the home we want it to remain true to its roots, so we chose future work to be done by the company that originally built the house, to retain the same quality craftsmanship and to operate and to prepare it to meet our needs over the next 20 years.

R. Wilson

We wanted to retain the principles that guided the original build. The building has unique features that we enjoy but the previous owners has a different lifestyle and family dynamic. The flow and open spaces are multifunctional so it can be adapted to meet our needs while retaining the eco-friendly design and features. For example, converting water feature into additional deck space enhances the outdoor living. Sustainable Retrofit design and concepts fit well with what we want to accomplish.

B. Wilson

The Sustainable Needs & Site Analysis® meeting allowed Brett to reflect on a home that helped build Sustainable’s early foundations, specifically reflecting on the importance of the initial Planning & Design process.

Brett shares that the creation of this timeless Architecture has always been about sensitive design, with total respect of and inspiration from the chosen site. Dovetailing Sustainable® lifecycle modelling specific to a targeted demographic, together with the guidelines of the specific site location, orientation, elements, vistas and characteristics, is essential to the process. This procedure allows the Architecture, during its subsequent life, to be easily adapted if required because the purpose of use was so accurately targeted in the Planning & Design phase, some 20 years ago. Brett describes the Sustainable® Home Design & Construct, if adopted and followed with commitment, as “Bullet Proof”. 

Consequently, the superficial — “I am not sure about that colour, I want to change that window to a door, we want the light layout and patterns adapted, we want to extend the deck, etc.” — does not matter, because it simply does not require major interactions. It is essentially only a taste; a personal interpretation of an existing space and adapting needs. 

With over 39 years of industry experience, Brett explains that the key to any Home Design & Construct is to be able to capture lifecycle sustainability — i.e., the personality, the purpose and the targeted demographic occupant age variations, migrations and further needs — even when resale is a factor. 

Sustainable’s earlier Custom Design homes, such as this beautiful home, set the foundational inspiration and projection of Sustainable’s 25+ year success. It is quite a rare experience to be able to go back to those early beginnings and reconnect with the essence of Sustainable’s purpose. 

It was a real delight to have that architecture reinvigorate and deliver that inspiration, said Brett.

As I knew it would be, it was inspiring, and you get that every time. So whether it was when we first built it or in the next 20 years, when you walk in that front door you get presented with the Architecture. You know it’s special, you know it’s timeless, you know you’re in for an experience, and it continually delivers right out to the Grand Finale of the back deck as you look out to the blue silhouette of the magnificent Border Range Mountains. It’s just amazing. And that is still there even 20 years on. Still living and breathing as truly Sustainable Homes do.

For me, it was really inspiring to be able to do that. How fantastic to have such a respectful and loving family acquire and be custodians of the home now. They are sensational people of great integrity, so fitting to have the home regifting to a wonderful family.

Sustainable “Bringing the Built Environment to Life”

If the built form is not inspiring and of strong character, if the space is not living and breathing, the occupant’s lives will most certainly be a direct reflection of that space.

CEO Brett McKenzie

Farewell Ann-Maree!

Brett McKenzie (CEO) with Ann-Maree Harris, our now former Office & Accounts Administrator of 7 loyal years. 

Today we farewell our Office & Accounts Administrator, Ann-Maree, after her 7 loyal and supportive years. Ann-Maree has been a part of the Sustainable Team since 2014; deciding to move on with the next journey of her life. 

Ann-Maree’s loyalty & support over the many and quite challenging years is greatly appreciated. The Sustainable Team and I wish her the very best as she moves forward into another chapter.

— Brett McKenzie | CEO

Our Sustainable Team will miss her “motherly” presence amongst the office space. We wish you well, Ann-Maree!

Newsletter: Sustainable LATEST NEWS (20 May, 2021)

Get a taste of Sustainable’s latest and most exciting news updates NOW!

We have provided our readers with a quick and interesting read on our latest news updates, including: 

  • Sustainable’s exciting new major partnership with Warwick Horse Trials,
  • Brett McKenzie’s appearance on the emerging environmental podcast — PROTECT, and
  • Tobias Volbert’s truthful report on The Kingfisher’s passive performance.

Be sure not to miss out on Sustainable’s LATEST NEWS. Check this space for more updates soon.

Building Sustainable Communities

PROTECT Podcast x Sustainable

Sustainable’s CEO, Brett McKenzie, was invited as a guest speaker on the PROTECT Podcast, hosted by Angela Fidele.

PROTECT Podcast Episode 6, S2 – “Building Sustainable Communities”

The PROTECT Podcast is an “environmental podcast” investigating relevant stories that relate to protecting the environment and all things sustainability. Learn more.

Angela and Brett’s discussion only lightly touches the depths of relevant conversation relating to sustainability and residential design. This podcast episode briefly explains the importance of sustainability in moving forward with our company towards building truly sustainable communities. This, a conversation we hope to hear more of and discuss further in the near future, encapsulates the importance of basic steps and thought processes to consider in home and building designs.

If you have a spare 45 minutes, this episode captures the fundamental concepts and principles behind understanding the build process of sustainable communities. It can be reached by a variety of platforms, including: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast Radio, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Castbox, etc.

What an incredible discussion to be a part of. Thank you Angela. The Sustainable Team is celebrating!

Major Partnership Announcement

Sustainable Warwick Horse Trials

Sustainable is proud to announce that we have entered a long-term major partnership agreement with the Equestrian Sporting Club – Warwick Horse Trials(WHT, Morgan Park).

It is our passion for excellence and attention to detail that places our company among the frontrunners of sustainable design and construction, both locally and nationally. Sustainable achieves this by our commitment to long term visions, pushing boundaries beyond our clients’ expectations.

Our sights are always set on future proof and timeless developments.

“What is often seen as impossible, we see as possible.”

Sustainable CEO Brett McKenzie

To many, it is no surprise that Queensland is well behind in providing particular high level sporting facilities and opportunities for emerging athletes and individuals to excel in their sport of choice. This is especially so in the equestrian field. Our commitment to Warwick Horse Trials, Morgan Park is to share our expertise with a focus on long-term planning and development of a world class equestrian precinct to provide those critical opportunities for emerging QLD athletes to excel to the highest level in their own back yard.

Over the last 18 months we have extensively conducted a total site plotting exercise to enable a comprehensive strategic Sustainable® Master Plan for the development of an exceptional and world class multidiscipline equestrian centre. 

The Sustainable Team is excited to share our knowledge and vision in partnership with the Warwick Horse Trials Committee to “Have A Crack”, dream big and get our hands dirty in the support of our valued athletes.

Living in the Kingfisher House

Brett and our Sustainable Team finished building Tobias Volbert and his family’s Award Winning dream home, the Kingfisher, in 2017. Now, 3 years on, Tobias shares his story of living in their sustainable Kingfisher Home.

Wow! 3 years ago we moved into our sustainable Kingfisher Home...it still feels like a dream! We've experienced now 3 summers and 3 winters and can truly say that the Kingfisher performs without air conditioning and heating. 

It’s incredible how the house works for us as a family.

Tobias Volbert

Even on the warmest summers days we get a breeze and the kids often call it "The Wind House" - a testament that the cross ventilation works to perfection! The amazing and innovative insulation process with the thermal chimney wall system, does its trick. It provides a house that stays cool in the summer months and passively heats during the winter, holding the heat coming from the thermal mass of the sleeping area of the house.

We also love our electricity bill that comes in under $100 per year, and our water bill is keeping at the minimum as the tanks (25,000 L) have never been empty so far. 

It's incredible how the house works for us as a family and Brett was so right by explaining the importance of volume vs. m2 as well as ensuring that home spaces are multi-usable and flexible. The entire property has now different rooms inside and outside to engage, find refuge, entertain or reflect. It just works superbly!

Also, how fast did our forest grow?! Unbelievable that now we sit on our deck and look into a proper forest just after 3-4 years. And the wildlife we are attracting...so good! 

Brett and the Sustainable Team, once again, thanks for making our dream come true!!”

                                                                                         - Tobias Volbert, 2020 
Watch The Kingfisher Video below!

Phone: (07) 3201 1177