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Keynote speakers

We are excited to welcome keynote speakers including Professor Diana Ürge-Vorsatz from the Central European University; Professor Harrison Fraker, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at University of California, Berkeley; Professor Li Zhu of Tianjin University in China, Dr Kay Saville-Smith, Director of CRESA and an expert in community and social policy research and Dr Guy Penny, a socio-environmental scientist and engineer with expertise in environmental systems management and sustainability.

Professor Harrison Fraker

Harrison Fraker thumbnailChosen as the fifth Dean of the College of Environmental Design, Harrison Fraker was educated as an architect and urban designer at Princeton and Cambridge Universities and is recognised as a pioneer in passive solar, daylighting and sustainable design, applied research and teaching. He has pursued a career bridging innovative architecture and urban design education with an award-winning practice. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for creating a new College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota and was appointed the founding Dean. He was granted Fellowship in the AIA College of Fellows for his distinguished career of bridging education and practice. He has published seminal articles on the design potential of sustainable systems and urban design principles for transit-oriented neighbourhoods in China, including the development of the Eco Block concept, the first integrated whole-systems design approach that generates all energy from local renewables and recycles and reuses all water and waste. He now teaches design studio and believes in integrating pragmatic and theoretical analysis to create new knowledge about critical environmental design challenges facing society. His research on best practices of sustainable neighbourhoods globally is summarised in his recently published book, The Hidden Potential of Sustainable Neighborhoods, Sept 2013, Island Press. He is the past Chair of the Energy Resources Group (ERG), a world renowned, interdisciplinary graduate group on Campus and is also the Ax:son Johnson Visiting Professor in the Sustainable Urban Design (SUDes) Masters programme at Lund University in Sweden. He was awarded the 2014 Topaz Medallion, the highest award given in architectural education by the AIA and the ACSA. He also recently received a $1.5 million research grant from the California Energy Commission entitled: the Oakland Ecoblock – A ZNE, Low Water Use Retrofit Neighborhood Demonstration Project.

Professor Diana Ürge-Vorsatz

Diana Ürge-Vorsatz thumbnail Professor Diana Ürge-Vorsatz is Director at the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy, Vice Chair of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, member of Academia Europa and Professor and Director of Environmental Sciences and Policy at the Central European University. Her work focuses on integration of climate change mitigation and sustainable development objectives, energy efficient and sustainable buildings, and climate change mitigation in cities.

Diana spoke to Wallace Chapman on Radio NZ's Sunday Morning show about how buildings, both residential and commercial, contribute to climate change through their carbon emissions which are generated through electricity use. She explained how to turn this around through deep retro-fitting. Listen to Diana's interview.

Dr Guy Penny

Dr Guy Penny  thumbnail Dr Guy Penny is a Socio-Environmental scientist/engineer with over 20 years’ experience in environmental systems management and sustainability in both the public and private sectors in New Zealand. His work includes healthy housing, sustainable energy, water and waste management, carbon reduction and collaborative community research and development projects. He is currently Director of EMPlan Services Ltd and is on the Board of Beacon Pathway.

Professor Li Zhu

Liu Zhu head shot

Professor Li Zhu is a Professor of Architecture in the Department of Building Technology at Tianjin University in China. She gained her PhD degree inthermal physics engineering from the School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University in 2005. She is President of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Sustainable Energy Centre (APSEC) and is the deputy executive director of Tianjin Municipal Energy Research Centre. 

She won the Young Researcher New Star Scientist Award in 2010 SCOPUS Young Researcher award scheme sponsored by the Youth Association of the  Chinese Academy of Sciences and Youth League Committee of Chinese Academy of Sciences. She was selected as the New Century Talent by the Ministry of Education in 2012. In 2016, she was selected as the Peiyang Young Scholar and visited Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a senior visiting scholar.

Professor Zhu's work focuses on low carbon building design, new energy integration, and sustainable energy system planning for low carbon towns. She has organised a series of activities for low carbon town in China, and is engaged in setting up the Network of Chinese Participation in APEC Energy Cooperation.

Dr Kay Saville-Smith

Dr Kay Saville-Smith thumbnail Dr Kay Saville-Smith MNZM, is the director of CRESA and has undertaken extensive research into housing markets, housing demand, retirement villages, accessible housing, sustainable housing, the residential building industry and neighbourhood built environments. She is currently leading the Life When Renting research programme funded by the Ageing Well National Science Challenge. She also leads two research programmes in another of New Zealand’s national science challenges - Building Better Homes Towns and Cities. One is concerned with the tools and logics different parts of the sector use when making housing and planning decisions and the other is about revitalising the production of housing affordable to low income families. As well as these current programmes she has led a number of public good science funded programmes or components, including: Finding the Best Fit – Housing, Downsizing and Older People in a changing Society – a three year research programme assessing the practicalities of downsizing and the conditions which determine successful transitions; Resilient Communities – Doing Better in Bad Times – a two year programme aimed at helping older people and their communities to be more resilient during adverse natural events and recover better after them; Good Homes – a five-year programme on older people’s repairs and maintenance needs in the context of ageing in place; the Sustainable Neighbourhoods Stream for BEACON Consortium; and the social science component of the Building Energy End-use Study (BEES) undertaken by the Building Research Association of New Zealand. You can find out more about the research results and tools from public good science work Kay has been involved in at