Indigenous Sustainable Development


Dr Burroughs provides various services in relation to sustainable building in remote Indigenous communities. These include contract management, construction project management, public–private partnerships, remote area logistics, environmental management, quality management, safety management, architectural and engineering delivery services, alternative building technologies, project management, contract management, innovative technologies, sustainable building design, sustainable construction methods, sustainable materials, remote building construction, environmental impact assessments, solid waste material recycling, waste water management, design of structures in earth and timber for cyclonic regions, alternative design and construction, self-help housing, and alternative building technologies.



Building a sustainable home in the remote Indigenous community of Nguiu, Bathurst Island, northern Australia.

Conversion of an old barn to part of a waste material recycling facility as part of a sustainability project in the remote community of Cherbourg, Queensland, Australia.

Sustainable Building in Remote Indigenous Communities


Environmentally sustainable building projects and infrastructural developments in remote communities are subject to a different array of constraints compared with those applying to urban settings.  In Australia, these constraints include not only the vast geographic separation from major centres, but also the severe environmental conditions and the characteristics of the host populations. Inhabitants of remote communities are disadvantaged by prevailing economic and social processes and by a lack of investment and infrastructure compared with urban areas.


A recent study by Dr Burroughs, which was presented at the World Sustainable Building 2013 Series Conference in Dubai, makes an analysis and assessment of remote community sustainable building in Australia, including aspects of design, construction, procurement, materials, and funding. Project case studies include the refurbishment of a building in Aurukun, the construction of sustainable houses in Nguiu and Wadeye, the design of a business centre in Yarrabah, and the development of a recycling centre in Cherbourg.  From these and other examples, common issues and themes relating to remote community sustainable building are identified, from which the key factors involved are drawn.  The findings provide new insights into the constraints acting on remote region sustainable construction, and reveal that affordable sustainable buildings can be constructed in remote communities, but only if appropriate designs, construction systems, procurement methods, and materials are adopted.  Given that many remote communities are populated by indigenous people, cultural considerations regarding sustainability must also be made.  Sustainable building projects should be encouraged in remote communities as a way of enhancing not only environmental but also socio-cultural and economic sustainability.