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:

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.”


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: 

“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

Phone: (07) 3201 1177