The Natural Edge Project The Natural Advantage of Nations Whole System Design Factor 5 Cents and Sustainability Higher Education and Sustainable Development

"Perhaps the best thing about this "quest for innovations inspired by nature" is that it is more than just a theory. It is already underway."
Jonathon Porritt, Chairman, Chair of the UK Prime Minister's Sustainable Development Commission

TNEP Workshops

TNEP undertakes a range of action research activities to inform and further develop its research program, including delivering short courses, workshops, design charrettes, strategic planning sessions and conference presentations to build industry experience and relationships.

Our team has experienced frustration in the past, to find a method that caters for time-efficient ‘community of practice’ peer review. In the absence of a rigorous approach, we developed (and have since refined) a method to use as part of our workshop facilitation experiences over the last decade, including with the federal government energy efficiency consultation research, Universities (including JCU and Monash), Townsville City Council and the ACT government’s land development project. The approach (which we have created under a creative commons licence) has had great feedback about its inclusivity and holistic, democratic approach to creation and review. In effect it uses an ‘inductive approach (distilling broad generalisations from specific observations)’ to consider the strength or weakness of a proposed solution/ brainstorm/ recommendation etc. The process facilitates the key points to arise from the participants at the workshop – permitting each participant to contribute through a number of smaller conversations, and guided by the issues/themes that the organisers have already distilled within the green paper. Outputs from the session typically comprise 6-8 collated documents (by issue/ theme) with specific review feedback.

Download Rotating Control Group Facilitation Method


Australia-Japan 2010 Education Symposium for the 21st Century,
Australian Consulate, Tokyo, 18 February 2010.

The 2010 Symposium on 'Knowledge and Skills for Sustainability' is supported by the Australia-Japan foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The event includes collaboration with the University of Tokyo (IR3S) and Australian Education International.

The symposium goal is to provide an international and interdisciplinary forum for Australian and Japanese participants to foster new collaborations in education and research by sharing their local knowledge and expertise, adapting those local specialitites to our future low-carbon economy and rapidly changing global environment. Following the May 2009 symposium, this symposium will provide an opportunity for participants to continue to discuss and prioirtise follow-up activities and networking opportunities for future collaborations through student exchanges, research collaborations, joint curriculum/ dual degree development, joint university-industry collaborations, and joint outreach acvitities.


Sustainability Education & Capacity Building Framework Workshop, 4-5 Aug 2006

The workshop, facilitated by Charlie Hargroves and Cheryl Desha, began with an overview of the emerging market for sustainable engineering services and the multiple benefits provided by sustainability in maintaining and enhancing market edge over competitors. This then provided the context to brainstorm a generic list of objectives with respect to desired professional abilities, literacies and competencies in sustainability across a range of performance areas that were then applied to a particular pilot sector. The workshop concluded with an assessment of a generic framework proposed by the facilitators and perform an initial calibration for the pilot sector using the outcomes of the workshop.

Photos: TNEP

"Selected KBR staff attended workshops, courses and seminars by The Natural Edge Project (TNEP). These resulted in the development of an in-house sustainability program through which we will educate and support our wider staff in the Asia Pacific region as the field of sustainable engineering continues to develop. This program has set the benchmark for our global counterparts in KBR and has provided a robust framework upon which we can build a sustainable future. We will continue to collaborate with TNEP as we progress towards sustainability."

Bridget Kelly, Sustainability Technical Sector Leader
KBR Government & Infrastructure.



Ecologically Sustainable Design Strategies, Scoping Workshop, 8 Nov 2006

The scoping workshop focused on exploring a range of sustainable design options for green buildings that could be incorporated at a preliminary stage of the planning and design process. The event was organised by Townsville City Council and supports a vision for a Centre of Excellence in Tropical Design. The participants included participants from the Townsville City Council CITISOLAR education and business network, ranging from Federal, State and Local Government, Utilities, Community/ NGO, professional bodies, Education and Research, design experts (e.g. engineering, architecture, planning etc) and business.

Photos: TNEP

The event was designed to inform and support the Townsville: Queensland Solar City project, particularly the Sustainable CBD Building component. The event consisted of a half-day seminar on the tropical application of sustainable building practices. This was followed by a design charrette focused on the concept plans for the Sustainable CBD “Solar Cities” commercial building (greenT) that is proposed to be developed by Cafalo Pty Ltd.



Sustainable Design & Practice - Delivering Profitability Workshop, 31 - 1 Nov 2006

The workshop was one of four workshops as part of the Ecotourism Australia’s 2006 International Conference that attracted over 70 delegates. The Workshop was promoted as, ‘a “Design Charrette” process to facilitate a structured but innovative design space around a mock Ecotourism Facility on an existing building and site. The Workshop combined contextual presentations, facilitated sessions, and a site visit and walk-through. Participants gained first hand experience of the Design Charrette process as a tool to bring about improved outcomes in sustainability in ecotourism facilities. The Charrette was of relevance to delegates involved in the planning and refurbishment of eco-tourism facilities, from technical design experts, to community representatives, local government and business. Workshop discussions facilitated concept planning between delegates that included the consideration of aspects such as renewable energy, eco-efficiency, advertisement and marketing, adaptation to climate change, ecotourism accreditation/certification, and facilities management.’

Photo: Courtesy of Tristam Denyer

The workshop combined contextual presentations, facilitated sessions, a site visit and walk-through. It encouraged discussion and concept planning between delegates, and included consideration of aspects such as renewable energy, eco-efficiency, adaptation to climate change, ecotourism accreditation/certification, facilities management and marketing. The Scoping Charrette was designed and facilitated by The Natural Edge Project in partnership with Townsville City Council and Ergon Energy as Major Sponsor and the CETD (Sustainability and Innovation - see



Sustainability Forums for Academic Staff at Griffith University, 2005/06

In March 2005, TNEP ran a Sustainability Forum with 37 staff from the (former) Faculty of Environmental Sciences, including 8 staff from the School of Environmental Engineering lead by Cheryl Desha. The day concluded with a commitment by participants, to work together on items arising from the day. In June 2005 this activity was repeated with the former School of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT), in collaboration with TNEP. 14 participants from Gold Coast Campus discussed what ‘sustainability’ meant for their discipline and the school and distilled a set of key relevant sustainability terms for the School.

In February 2006 a scoping workshop was held for the new Griffith School of Engineering (GSE) staff in partnership with TNEP, lead by Charlie Hargroves and Cheryl Desha. The focus of the workshop was to consider how GSE might embed sustainability within the engineering curriculum. Participants used the ‘Domains of Sustainability’ model developed by TNEP (Personal, Community, Environment, Economy), developing a list of attributes to inform the first year common course 1001ENG ‘Engineering Practice & Sustainability’.



Student Attributes and Demonstrated Competencies Workshop, 7 Oct 2005

In 2006 TNEP undertook a collaboration with the Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering at QUT to develop a Faculty-wide ‘Introducing Sustainability’ unit. TNEP assisted by facilitating preparatory workshops, delivering base lecture material and assisting in tutor training and support. The base unit material for the unit is a hybrid of the TNEP course 'Introduction to Sustainable Development for Engineering and Built Environment Professionals', and the textbook for the unit is ‘The Natural Advantage of Nations'.



Sustainable Living Tasmania - Sustainability Series 16-19 Nov 2005

Sustainable Living Tasmania's holds an annual series of seminars aimed at empowering Tasmanians with a deeper understanding of sustainability. In 2005 TNEP was selected to lead the series and deliver a combination of lectures and facilitated workshops in partnership with Sustainable Living Tasmania. Charlie Hargroves and Nick Palousis traveled to Hobart and received a warm welcome and enjoyed the hospitality of Margaret Steadman and the team at Sustainable Living Tasmania.

16 November 2005 - The Role of Engineers in Sustainability Seminar, TNEP facilitated a 3 hour interactive seminar focused on the opportunities for engineers in sustainable development, including lectures, small group discussion and facilitated group discussion.

17 November 2005 - The Business Case for Sustainability Seminar, TNEP facilitated a 2.5 hour interactive seminar focused on the opportunities for business and industry in sustainable development, including lectures, small group discussion and facilitated group discussion.

18 November 2005 - Cultural Change and Sustainability within Universities Seminar
TNEP facilitated a 2.5 hour interactive seminar focused on the opportunities to accelerate change within the university towards sustainable development including lectures, a group roleplay scenario and facilitated group discussion.

    Photo: TNEP



Formulas for a Thriving Planet Forum with Greg Bourne, 8 Nov 2005

hosted by the The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and facilitated by Charlie Hargroves with support from Nick Palousis, the Forum provided a relaxed opportunity for a selection of youth representatives from a number of fields to engage directly with Greg Bourne on topical environmental matters and active solutions. Greg has a fascinating set of ‘past lives’, from UK public ‘think tank’ expert to Regional President of oil company BP Australasia, before he took on his new leader role at WWF-Australia.

                         Photo: TNEP

Greg Bourne with the invited delegates to the Forum,

with Charlie Hargroves (tall one at the back)

and Nick Palousis (right at the front).



Young Engineers Australia - 2005 National Summit

Having all been past Presidents of divisions of Young Engineers Australia, Charlie Hargroves, Cheryl Desha and Nick Palousis keenly accepted the invitation to lead a 2 hour interactive workshop with over 170 Young Engineers from all over Australia as part of the National Summit. The Summit was held in conjunction with the Global Colloquium of Engineering Education.

        Photo: TNEP