In conversation with Woods Bagot’s regional sustainability consultant 

Julieta Loya is Woods Bagot’s sustainability consultant for Australia and New Zealand. Working closely with the Global Impact Group, Loya helps develop the knowledge, tools and capabilities of the team to reduce environmental impact and promote social responsibility on projects. 

Julieta Loya trained in architecture and has a passion for sustainable and regenerative design practices.  

“I grew up in Cancun; more than thirty years ago, it was a very different place,” says Loya.  

With the effects of tourism and extractive investing, Loya witnessed the gradual degradation of the beachside destination’s natural assets and community over the course of a couple of decades.  

“I have always felt in touch with nature. At some point I felt I was on the wrong side of things, helping to destroy the environment rather than protect it,” she explains. “I love architecture, and people are going to build things regardless – so I decided if I’m going to work in architecture, I’m going to do it the best way I can.

In the journey to her career in sustainability, Loya was tutored by the figureheads of Regenesis Group, one of whom is one of the founding minds behind LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. 

“I left my job in construction and moved to Mexico City started working in LEED certification, where I met a lot of interesting people in the fields of regenerative design and development,” Loya says. “Throughout my sustainability journey, I’ve met many interesting people in the fields of regenerative development and design.

“I’ve been mentored by some of the leaders in Regenesis, who have pioneered the regenerative development movement for over twenty-five years,” she continues. “They have paved the way for the next generation of regenerators through generous knowledge-sharing and trailblazing in integrative design and living systems thinking.” 

Cancun, 1979-2009.

If we’ve been able to damage the planet the way we have without intending to, imagine what positive impact we could have if we consciously and intentionally put our doing into the service of all these living systems.

Julieta Loya

In Mexico, Loya studied a diploma in biomimicry run by the Biomimicry Institute, advancing the adoption of nature-inspired strategies to solve design challenges. Loya also undertook a course with Regenesis Group, ‘The Regenerative Practitioner’ – a program delving into the fundamentals that underlie a regenerative approach to developments of all kinds. 

After moving to Australia, Loya completed a master’s in architectural science and built up her experience in architectural and environmentally sustainable design (ESD). In 2020, she worked at Mott Macdonald as a regenerative design advisor in Sydney. “It was the first time that I saw a role that wanted anyone that knew anything about regenerative development in architecture,” she said. “That’s how I came to realise that I really enjoy strategy.”   

According to Loya, some of the reasons for lagging uptake of sustainable solutions include an abdication of responsibility within the chain of command.  

Loya’s sketches of a sustainable home in Cancun, 2010.

“We [designers] are one piece of the puzzle, but a piece with a big impact. We underestimate how much we can or should be doing,” says Loya. “We always think we are at the mercy of a good client; but many times, it’s up to us to inform the client of the best sustainability outcomes.” 

The built environment is the single largest emitting sector for CO2, responsible for 37 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. But, Loya reassures us, there are some exciting developments taking place in the fields of regenerative design that could signal a more optimistic future ahead.  

If we’ve been able to damage the planet the way we have without intending to, imagine what positive impact we could have if we consciously and intentionally put our doing into the service of all these living systems. Wouldn’t that be something?” says Loya. 

“More than a responsibility, we have a big opportunity we should take.”  

Loya worked on LEED certification for Torre Virreyes, Mexico City, 2013. Architect: Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon.

Another barrier to more widespread uptake of sustainable design, Loya adds, is the issue of resourcing.  

“To do it right, it needs to be resourced – have a team member for whom half their role is dedicated to sustainability as a start,” she says. “We need to have respect for the topic, appropriately resource for it and reflect it in our fees. Change needs to occur in the internal structure of a practice.

“I’m really excited to see Woods Bagot taking action towards building the right structures to support this work.”

“More than a responsibility, we have a big opportunity we should take.”

Julieta Loya

Loya says the highlight of her career has been witnessing the gradual shift in the collective understanding of the imperative for sustainable design solutions. But, she adds, there is still work that needs to be done.  

Industry wide, fees are tight, timeframes are short, and there’s little time for research before we need to deliver,” she says. “Internally, we need to assign the right value to our work, monetary and otherwise. This ties in with designing with Country and implementing Aboriginal knowledge and perspective on design. 

“First Nations people think on a very different timeframe; they need time to feel a space, to understand Country and figure out what it needs – but you can’t do that in a month. Perhaps this is a valuable opportunity to re-think our structures. 


Julieta Loya will be speaking at the 2023 Sustainability Summit – the 17th annual event in the program – hosted online and at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney. 

Media enquiries
Isla Sutherland
Content and Communications Specialist (Australia & New Zealand)

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