The Regenerative Design Opportunity for Water Utilities with Ben Preston and Lindsey Brown
Nothing exists within a vacuum. When we build huge infrastructure, it doesn’t stand alone, but amidst multiple upon multiple, in fact, infinite systems of life.
So far in the 21st Century, the discourse about what we build has been largely around sustainability. How do we make buildings, and our infrastructure sustainable so they not only last a long time but so they don’t harm the environment or people?
Today we explore a different perspective, the concept of regenerative design. It’s a conversation that goes beyond sustainability, that asks the question: “How might we look at what we create and build for the benefit of human beings more deeply so that all life can thrive in any given area?”
For this discussion, we are joined by guests Ben Preston and Lindsey Brown. Ben is an independent consultant and engineer who is deeply committed to inspiring and educating people about regenerative design. Lindsey is GHD’s Water Market Leader for Victoria, Australia who is leading an exploration of how regenerative design can help transform the work of the water sector.
Together, Ben and Lindsey explore what regenerative design is and how it could be applied in the water industry.
Meet this week’s expert
Ben Preston is a chartered engineer that helps people design in regenerative ways and achieve better social, environmental and economic outcomes in property development and business.
Ben’s work involves stepping into project stewardship roles, and helping to create the foundations needed for a project, team and place to thrive. His focus is on placing living, ecological processes of environment and culture at the core of project team operations, engaging new forms of collaboration, procurement and design that are inclusive and holistic, and enabling the project to act as a vehicle for the development of the team delivering it.
Water Market Leader, Victoria
Lindsey is a changemaker, water industry disruptor, strategic engagement consultant, adviser and keynote speaker.
With a 15+ year background in environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility and public policy development in the water industry, Lindsey is passionate about sustainability and win-win outcomes for all stakeholders through connecting to and understanding what matters to them and what they need. She is highly skilled at bringing all voices to the table, connecting technical professionals and their policy, community and interdisciplinary stakeholders.
Prior to taking on the role as Water Market Leader for Victoria at GHD, Lindsey was a highly sought after engagement strategist focused on driving change within and modernising the water industry. Having worked with a myriad of clients, from councils to water utilities, research institutes to global consulting firms, Lindsey has led award-winning water industry projects, specialising in transforming the theoretical into the practical through her unique, human-centered approach.
- Ben: To be sustainable in an environment that’s in constant change, we ourselves have to be in constant change in relation to that environment. And so regenerative design really then spoke to me because it fundamental to it. It’s quite a complex field in some ways. But fundamental to it is the understanding, which is now verified through various scientific disciplines, that life is that process by which sustainability becomes possible, that continual process of change and evolution that occurs in all living systems.
- Lindsey: Systems thinking is, I think, one of the only really meaningful ways to unpack that because we are in a system, we are literally in a living system in terms of the water cycle.
- Ben: So all of that intelligence and all of that collective reciprocity, that continual dance that’s going on between my or my organic system of information, exchange and interpretation and action is then it’s taken. When we use it all, it’s often taken out of context and it simplifies and bypasses a lot of our intelligence.
- Ben: I think that there is a place for technology, but the key is always to understand that technology is not going to get us where we need to go. It’s an industry that can help us to get there. But it’s the wisdom of the living systems, the people, the communities, the teams, the businesses that are using those tools. That’s always going to determine the quality of the outcome.
- Ben: We know closed systems don't exist. We know that fundamentally, every single stream of science tells us that we live in an interconnected world. So actually, the goal becomes how do we more widely, more deeply with greater quality, connect the systems that we’re working with so that they can exchange information, they can exchange energy and those synchronicities can learn from each other and lead to ever higher, more productive conditions for life to thrive in a given area.
About Future Water
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