PhD student Clare McCracken led an international team to victory at an innovation lab held in Denmark after responding to an RMIT call to action that encouraged her to think outside the box.
The 17 goals are a universal call to action which set out to tackle the root causes of poverty and protect the planet.
Of the 1,000 people selected, McCracken was one of eight RMIT students invited to participate in the UNLEASH event.
At first glance, the PhD (Art) student didn’t think the lab would suit her area of expertise.
“I am really interested in the role that artists can play outside their own disciplines. I am interested in how we can be real innovators and think differently because of the way we negotiate our practice, but doing this in areas where we may never have worked before,” she says.
Participants were divided into teams and were required to explore challenges that arose under the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. These included water, food, energy, urban sustainability, consumption and production, education and, ICT and health.
“My personal interests around how recycling could work in the construction industry made me a great fit for the urban sustainability group,” says McCracken.
“The majority of RMIT students participated in the urban sustainability group, which really highlights how strong that particular research and teaching area is at RMIT.”
McCracken and four other talents from around the world put their creativity together to come up with an innovative solution to an issue they were passionate about.
“As a group, we identified that around 50 per cent of all landfill is coming from the building and construction industry. There is an enormous amount of energy wastage going on, with great stuff going into the ground instead of being recycled or new stuff being made from these resources.”
They came up with the innovative idea ‘The Demolition 4 Design (D4D)’, which responds directly to this issue.
D4D’s solution was to create a platform that disrupts the ecosystem of the built environment by connecting previously disconnected professionals, and by diverting landfill waste into new markets.
“Buildings often sit in areas where new developments aren't possible. As a result buildings become derelict and create really awful neighbourhoods,” McCracken explains.
“By creating an economy around demolition, D4D’s solution means those buildings can be removed rather than sitting there becoming dilapidated.”
Since being awarded first prize in their category, McCracken and her team have been receiving mentoring from the UNLEASH organisation and are continuing to work collaboratively on their idea.
She is really grateful that she took RMIT’s encouragement to participate in the lab, and is looking forward to a more sustainable future.
“This experience has really opened up opportunities for me to connect with potential partners and continue to learn about the processes involved in creating a start-up.”
Story: Mikaela Ortolan