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Building Construction, Environment

Living Future Institute of Australia calls for Australia’s most sustainable heritage listed building design

Living Future Institute of Australia 4 mins read
Photography u00a9John Jovic


Architects, designers and students to compete for the ILLUMANATE Living Building Challenge® Design Competition, redefining the future of the built environments through restorative architecture 

26 July | The Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA) today launches the highly anticipated ILLUMANATE Living Building Challenge® Design Competition in partnership with Development Victoria. 

The competition calls on architects, designers and students to create the most sustainable, and restorative, heritage-listed building in Australia, which must live up to precise environmental, self-sustaining standards, including generating its own energy and capturing and treating its own water.

The Living Building Challenge® Certification is a high-performance program that sets the benchmark for buildings that go beyond sustainability with regenerative design. It’s one of the most advanced measures of sustainability worldwide.

This year’s competition follows the success of the last event held in 2016 which led to the creation of Burwood Brickworks Shopping Centre in Melbourne. More than 40 organisations and 100 individuals competed to push the boundaries of regenerative design to create the most certifiably sustainable shopping centre in the world. 

LFIA is now turning its attention to existing buildings, which constitute a significant portion of our built environment. With estimates suggesting that up to 80% of buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist today, achieving Net Zero by then necessitates deep retrofits. 

This year’s competition will centre around a heritage-listed building constructed in the 1970’s for the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), located in the western Melbourne suburb of Sunshine North. This building is integrated within Development Victoria’s broader plan to facilitate a sustainable mixed use development of the site with residential, retail and community uses.

The Competition  aims to break the misconception that only new buildings can be regenerative and bridge the gap in skills that exist within the current industry. LFIA is committed to demonstrating the remarkable potential that emerges from integrating the standards and principles of the Living Building Challenge into preexisting structures. 

Why is this important? 
In a time where the built environment generates 40% of annual global CO2 emissions regenerative design presents a pathway to change, where buildings go beyond being merely green and become restorative, giving back to the people who inhabit them, the land they stand on, and the resources they utilise. This is crucial in order to continue working towards creating an environmentally  thriving planet. Investing in the future is pivotal, towards a place where modern architecture forges a unity between design and nature. 

LFIA CEO Laura Hamilton-O’Hara commented:, “We’re here to maximise the positive. Usually the focus for the industry is on doing less bad, but actually it’s about doing better, for both society and the planet. A Living Building generates its own energy using renewables, acts as part of the hydrological cycle of the site, and takes into account embodied energy in materials and tools used. Regenerative Buildings are our theory of change and what they do is create people who can see the world differently. They can see what’s possible, pushing the boundaries of design and architecture to become truly regenerative.

“The Living Building Challenge is the Everest of green building rating tools. We can’t wait to see the entries for this year’s Challenge.”


Chair of the LFIA board Vanessa Trowell added: “The most sustainable building is one that already exists. So we need to embrace the idea of retrofitting and reimagining an existing building to create regenerative spaces. We can’t always start from scratch.”


Development Victoria CEO Angela Skandarajah says the organisation is delighted to partner with LFIA in this latest Living Building Challenge. “We’re proud of Development Victoria’s  strong and clear commitment to creating a sustainable future. Our aim is to ensure we leave a strong legacy across our portfolio, through best practice sustainable construction and development.” 

As part of a global movement spearheaded by International Living Future Institute (ILFI), LFIA is actively revolutionising the built environment with regenerative design principles. Pioneering projects such as the Living Building Challenge, Biophilic Design Initiative, and Just and Declare aim to replenish resources, foster a deep connection with nature, and regenerate life itself. 

LFIA invites architects, designers, students and industry professionals to try their hand and explore the untapped potential of revitalising our built environment. 

To learn more about LFIA's 2023 design competition and how to participate, visit here.
Sign up for the online launch on the 1st of August at 11am here. 


About us:

Available for interview: 

  • Laura Hamilton-O'Hara, CEO of Living Future Institute Australia—Laura's visionary leadership propels the organisation's mission to leverage the power of the built environment as a catalyst for transformative change. Under Laura's guidance, LFIA harnesses the boundless potential of sustainable architecture and design to reimagine our cities and communities. With an unwavering commitment to creating a socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative world, Laura fosters collaboration across sectors and empowers change-makers to push the boundaries of what's possible.

  • Vanessa Trowell, Chair of the Board of the Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA)—Vanessa is a highly accomplished urban designer, urban geographer, and project management expert. Being well-versed in landscape architecture, Vanessa brings a unique blend of trans-disciplinary knowledge to the forefront of civic and spatial thinking in city making. She is currently Principal at Weston Williamson + Partners, where her primary focus lies in the transformative power of essential infrastructure and its enduring, egalitarian impact on cities.


Imagery: HERE




About LFIA: Established in 2012, the Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA) is an Affiliate of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). ILFI is an environmental NGO committed to creating communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. It operates the Living Building Challenge, the built environment’s most ambitious performance standard, as well as many other visionary programs that support the transformation toward a living future. ILFI’s global movement is revolutionising the built environment with regenerative design. LFIA  support this movement and ILFI by providing education & training, advocacy, and opportunities for connection for ILFI programs in Australia.


About Development Victoria: Development Victoria is a government agency partnering with industry and community to transform ambitious ideas into reality. And together, we deliver places that make a genuine difference to the people of Victoria. We balance community needs with commercial discipline – and our experience shows that sustainable, livable places deliver the best long-term return for all. 

Contact details:


Rachel Harrison | | 0487 288 144

Corah Fortune | | 0405 833 757

Emma Eager | | 0420 245 305


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