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“Be a bold leader and keep fighting the good fight” – Romilly Madew’s farewell message for green building movement

This month, influential green building leader Romilly Madew steps down from the helm of the Green Building Council Australia (GBCA). After 13 years as Chief Executive Officer, Romilly leaves behind an impressive legacy in transforming Australia’s built environment towards sustainability.

Under her leadership, she has built the GBCA’s global reputation as an influential advocate and change agent. Owing to Romilly’s stewardship, the GBCA has become a trusted advisor to government, and a global leader among WorldGBC’s green building council network.

When Romilly joined the GBCA in 2006, just a handful of projects had achieved Green Star ratings. Today, there are excess of 2,250 certified projects.

Now, more than 37% of Australia’s office space is Green Star certified and 6% of Australia’s workforce head to a sustainable office each day. Upwards of 1.3 million people visit a Green Star-rated shopping centre each day and 48,000 live in Green Star-rated apartments.

Romilly’s outstanding leadership has been recognised both locally in Australia and internationally. In 2017, she was awarded the World Green Building Council Chairman’s Award for her contribution to a sustainable built environment. More recently in January 2019, she was awarded an Order of Australia award (AO) in honour of her distinguished service to the construction sector as a change agent and advocate for sustainable building practices.

Romilly leaves GBCA to join Infrastructure Australia as Chief Executive Officer. She sees close synergies between the built environment and infrastructure: “Buildings and infrastructure go hand in hand. We need infrastructure for the built environment, and we need the built environment to justify infrastructure.”

She identifies challenges in infrastructure that she will address with the extensive skills in advocacy and stakeholder management that she has honed at GBCA, and enabled her to activate a sustainable transition of Australia’s built environment: “Our population is growing, congestion is an issue and very much like the issues that we’ve been grappling with in the built environment, this will only continue as our infrastructure needs continue to increase.”

As parting words to her team at GBCA, she urges them to keep being passionate: “The culture is fantastic at GBCA. Everyone’s willingness to engage, learn and grow and engage is beautiful to watch. Keep fighting the good fight – we have to keep the industry and government honest.”

Her final words for the wider green building industry? Romilly reminds us of the challenges ahead. “Carbon is here to stay and it’s not going to go away. It’s beholden on industry to call out where action is not being taken – in some areas of the economy it’s not being taken, and within our industry, too. And in some areas of government we need more action around incentives, support and policy to support the work of the Green Building Council.”

Yet it is the emergence of new leadership in the green building movement that Romilly anticipates the most.

“We’ve had wonderful leaders in the past both globally and locally, and many of us now are moving on. I’m really excited to see where the new leaders are coming from, so be a new leader – and be a bold leader – because you gain so much from it.”

To find out more about the Green Building Council of Australia, visit

To find out more about Infrastructure Australia, visit