Changing tides, changing times: will our cities be climate ready?

Ms Liz Johnstone1, Ms Siân Willmott1

1AECOM, Melbourne, Australia


High performance buildings and assets are essential for our future cities. The decisions we make today will determine how ready we are for the future – particularly in the face of a changing climate.

We are seeing a shift towards resilience in our assets and communities. To reduce the cost of damage and improve business continuity engineers and other built environment professionals are engaging more with climate science.

We are demanding more from our built environment, and expecting it to perform under variable and challenging conditions. With many of our cities on the coast, appreciating these longer term factors will enable the spaces we design and build today to be smarter, have greater function and last well into the future.

This presentation will draw on leadership in sustainability and how embedding future climate considerations into long term asset design may provide useful guidance for the coastal zone. It will draw on project examples to explore the additional measures that can improve the capacity to cope with greater uncertainty, embed resilience principles into new and existing infrastructure, and foster collaboration for a stronger future.  Challenges in applying these approaches across broader precincts and across public and private land will also be explored.

Liz and Sian work together in sustainability in the buildings and places team at AECOM.  Together they bring public and private sector perspectives, technical and policy skills and a long view to the problems they solve.


Siân Willmott is a senior sustainability consultant with AECOM and committed to delivering high performance sustainable buildings and communities. She has design experience across commercial, residential, educational, healthcare, industrial and master planned projects and holds both Green Star and Infrastructure Sustainability accreditation.

Siân is the Chair of the Australia and New Zealand Young Engineering network Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)

Liz Works with Sian in the Buildings and Places team at AECOM, as Associate Director – Sustainability. Living in flood-prone Elwood has led Liz to almost 30 years of involvement in coastal planning and management. Liz has a community and  government background  – as a St Kilda Councillor and Mayor of Port Phillip. Liz also chaired the Central Coastal Board, was a member of the Victorian Coastal Council and President of the ABM. (Association of Bayside Municipalities) leading the development of the Boating Coastal Action Plan for Port Phillip and Western Port.

Prior to joining AECOM, Liz was the Executive Officer at the Planning Institute of Australia, and previously led the planning, building and environment policy areas at the MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria), working on bushfire hazard and recovery, coastal policy, climate change, urban planning and ESD – and projects including the Coastal Adaptation Pathways project.