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Future Thinker

of the Year

Celebrating the students and recent graduates making waves in sustainable building


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Future Thinker of the Year is awarded annually to a student or recent graduate who has demonstrated environmental knowledge and leadership.

This could be through activism, research, or achievements in and out of work. The award recognises success and passion for green buildings, and offers an opportunity to make a real difference across Aotearoa’s built environment. 

Future Thinker of the Year 2024 applications are open!

Candidates may nominate themselves or be nominated by a friend, colleagues or other industry influencer. Now in its sixth year, the team at the NZGBC has worked closely with our judging panel and sponsors to improve the programme and acknowledge the great mahi we’ve seen come through an outstanding field of candidates.

In 2024, our judges may also choose to award an Emerging Leader who will be identified from the shortlisted Future Thinkers and who have grown their own network and have already shown and continue to show their commitment to Aotearoa’s sustainable built environment. Creating the Emerging Leader Award allows us to acknowledge up and coming talent, while also acknowledging those who meet the criteria and may already be more established in the industry through internships, project experience or other networks.   

The Future Thinker of the Year Awards will be taking place on 30 April 2024. The deadline for nominations is Friday 1st March and applications close on 8 March 2024.

How to apply

If you have been nominated by someone else or if you are wanting to apply yourself, please fill out our application form. In this application form we will ask you to outline a bit about yourself and answer questions about your mahi in the sustainable built environment. Please consider: 

  • The contributions you have made to Aotearoa New Zealand and the property and construction sector.
  • The positive impact you have made to the sustainable built environment.
  • Any challenges you have had to overcome in your journey.
  • Your future plans to influence the sector .
  • How you have taken social sustainability into account.

Please refer to our terms and conditions before proceeding with your application or nomination.

Nomination: If you'd like to nominate a friend/colleague/or other industry influencer, please fill in the nomination form here. 

Application: If you'd like to apply for the Future Thinker of the Year Awards, please fill in this application form here. 

Once we have received all application forms by the 8th March, the judges will review your application and we will be in touch to notify you of the outcome on the 15th March. If you have been shortlisted, you will move onto to the next stage.

“I’m thrilled that, as finalists, NZGBC provided this platform for us to share our innovations and our challenges to the industry last night. For my own vision and mahi to have been acknowledged is an honour. To optimise the impact of green initiatives, we need to build trust, exposure, and data exchange between academia, practice, and disciplines. I look forward to connecting with other agents of change in a bid to transform industry mindsets regarding biomaterials and digital design, and to make experience-rich learning more accessible to young people,”

Maria Walker
Future Thinker of the Year 2023

Open to apprentices, students and anyone who graduated in the last 4 years, Future Thinker of the Year awards our young leaders who are passionate about sustainability, can champion the values of the NZGBC, and who will help inspire change in our built environment. 

Last year we had an incredibly strong set of applicants, with nine shortlisted: Nola Smart, Ruby Crooks, Oludolapo Olanrewaju, Luis Medrano, Rana Abdollahi Rizi, Maria Walker, Maggie MacKinnon, Emily Newmarch, and Alexander Wierzbicki

Four finalists; Oludolao Olanrewaju, Luis Medrano, Maria Walker and Emily Newmarch were chosen by our independent panel of judges and each presented their ideas at our awards evening on May 4 held at the University of Auckland.

Meet our previous winners


Future Thinker of the Year 2022

Eloise Blewden

Master of Architecture student at Victoria University of Wellington

Future Thinker of the Year 2021

Meredith Dale

Urban strategist with The Urban Advisory and University of Auckland graduate - Masters in Urban Planning and Urban Design

Future Thinker of the Year 2020

Tessa Meyer

Corporate responsibility advisor at Eke Panuku

Future Thinker of the Year 2019

Kate Boylan

Sustainability engineer at Tonkin + Taylor

Thanks to our Future Thinker sponsors

Warren and Mahoney
Mott MacDonald

Become a Future Thinker

Join our network of students and young professionals passionate about a sustainable built environment

Upcoming events

Check out our calendar of coffee catch ups and networking opportunities