Home    AECOM    Insight

AECOMs Sian Willmott designs sustainable buildings

AECOM's Sian Willmott designs sustainable buildings

 July 01, 2022

 Read time

AECOM's People Spotlight series features Sian Willmott, an Associate Director from AECOM's Sustainability team in Australia.

Here Sian shares some insight into her inspiration and her work.

The People Spotlight series provides industry insight from AECOM experts around the world, and provides insight into their work and inspiration.

Meet AECOM's Sian Willmott 

Sian Willmott is an associate director for Sustainability and is based in Melbourne, Australia. Over the past decade, Sian has worked on many major buildings, precincts and portfolios as a sustainable design consultant, challenging the status quo for initiatives that reduce environmental impact and improve occupant amenity. Sian works closely with AECOM’s key clients to develop integrated solutions to complex project challenges and contributes to broader industry change through the Property Council of Australia’s Sustainable Development Committee. Sian is currently working across various technical disciplines to integrate AECOM’s global Sustainable Legacies strategy, across the Buildings and Places business in Australia and New Zealand.

What inspired you to join the industry? 

"I’ve always been interested in architecture, and I recall sketching buildings from as young as eight years old. When I applied to study architectural engineering at university, I didn’t really understand the balance between the two disciplines in the course. The degree turned out to be heavily engineering-focused, with an appreciation of architecture. It was the sustainability subjects that really captured my interest due to their diverse application across multiple disciplines, and innate ability to influence architectural design," explains Sian.

What's your favorite project worked on at AECOM?

"There are many projects which I’ve worked on that I’ve enjoyed for different reasons. In the last couple of years, a couple come to mind as career highlights," she says.

"Botanic High School – The education sector has always been attractive from a sustainability perspective because of the influence you can have on reducing environmental impact for owner-occupiers, but also the inspiration you can provide to students. Botanic High School, commissioned by the South Australia Department for Education, was designed to comfortably accommodate 1,250 students over two buildings, linked seamlessly via a central light-filled atrium," Sian continues.

"Working with Cox Architects, we delivered Environmentally Sustainable Design services alongside other building services disciplines. Inherently sustainable, the first building is an adaptive reuse of the existing old Royal Adelaide Hospital, Reid building. Whilst its main structure was retained, it was uplifted to match the modern exterior of the new building. Key design features included a high-performance facade, mixed-mode ventilation to teaching areas and a large central atrium (not actively conditioned) which is provided with a light-weight, variable shading ETFE ‘cushion’ roof, which constantly adjusts to optimise the balance of heat-gains and daylight to the space, depending on environmental conditions. The school achieved a 5 Star Green Star rating."

"Whole of House – The objective of this project was to assist the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council officials to gather evidence and undertake analysis to progress Measure 31.2 of the National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP). This project looked at the ease of achieving a net-zero (energy or carbon) residential dwelling, considering both its thermal performance and appliances across differing climate zones and jurisdictions. Whilst the priority of this project was the modelling of different dwellings and communication of results, these had to be communicated and rationalised with over 180 stakeholders across the country. The work fed into the trajectory for low energy buildings, a national plan that sets a trajectory towards zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings for Australia. The plan was agreed upon in 2019 by Energy Ministers and identifies opportunities for the building sector in the context of a broader trajectory for the sector."

How has your work positively impacted the community?

"We’ve been fortunate as a team to work on a variety of projects that impact the community from both an environmental and social perspective. I personally enjoy working on projects where I can influence the quality of the indoor environment to positively impact either the learning environment for students or the recovery of patients in the education and healthcare settings respectively. The sustainability industry is quite collaborative given we all have a common goal and the Property Council of Australia’s Victorian Sustainable Development Committee has given me a voice on broader policies and precincts to advocate for holistic sustainable design," Sian comments. 

"My third career choice after engineering and architecture was teaching so, I get a lot of joy from engaging with others and helping them understand sustainable buildings and how they are designed. Through working at AECOM, I have been fortunate enough to create connections with universities that have allowed me to tutor, provide career advice and mentor students across multiple disciplines," she adds. "For several years, I also sat on the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) committee, helping to engage with like-minded professionals on current industry issues and broaden the technical understanding of younger engineers."

What career advice would you like to share?

"David Peoples is AECOM’s practice leader for Consulting & Technology and has been my manager for several years. David has always emphasised that “you are only as good as the team around you.” Since then, it’s been my mission to ensure that I’m helping support those in my team to pinpoint where and how they want to succeed and to help them develop their careers with values that align with what they want to achieve. There is no point in driving your own agenda in this industry. You really need driven people on board to support you, challenge you and help deliver outcomes to succeed," Sian concludes.

Join AECOM and work on exciting projects 

Want to make an impact through sustainability-focused projects?

Search AECOM's latest career vacancies and embark on a great career with this progressive employer. 


Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, X, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


Join our women's careers community