About the Case Studies Project

The need for tropical sustainable buildings in our city and region is stronger now than ever. These building types use resources more efficiently, are more climate-responsive and deliver new technology using world’s best practice.  With the estimated three billion people living in tropical regions set to double by the end of the century, tropical Australia is uniquely placed to take full advantage of this niche opportunity and tropical sustainable design represents a significant emerging industry that can create opportunities for innovative solutions and the expansion of the tropical design and construction industries.

The Case Study Project is a joint initiative of the Tropical Building Network (previously Tropical Green Building Network) and James Cook University (JCU). It aims to capture and share the knowledge and best practice tropical expertise in our built environment. The Case Studies record key features of selected sustainable/green/tropically adapted building projects in the Cairns and Far North Queensland (FNQ) region. Many of the projects already have green star ratings from various sources.  Other projects are well adapted to our tropical environment yet are difficult to rate using criteria typically based on temperate models.  The Project aims to consolidate knowledge and augment our understanding of those features that are tailored to deliver success in our tropical environment. 

Each case study carries technical information and has been compiled by members of the Cairns and region construction industry.  There are case studies of large developments at Ports North and Skyrail, Smithfield Village, the Cairns Convention Centre, TNQIT TAFE, Botanical Gardens Visitors Centre, William McCormack Place Stage 2, Edge Hill State School and Redlynch Sports Stadium to name a few. There are also case studies featuring multi-units, tourist accommodation, work carried out in the Daintree, our national parks, Aboriginal and Thursday Island remote communities.

The project received funding from the JCU Sustainability Fund. The project team leaders George & Emma Thirkell established a Reference Group. George & Emma Thirkell identified over 70 projects and started gathering information. A Guiding Document and Data Collection Sheet were devised by George & Emma, that was agreed by the working reference group and then widely distributed to those in the industry through the Tropical Building Network to reach people that might have suitable case studies to document.  Data Collection Sheets were completed and photos and plans submitted. The process of readying the case studies for publication was undertaken by George & Emma Thirkell & JCU.

Although the Case Studies Project has completed its initial goal, the process is established to support the ongoing compilation and publication as new projects as they emerge.  

Project Leaders

George & Emma Thirkell: Thirkell Consulting Engineers & Building Design, facilitator of the Tropical Building Network powered by TropicalBuild.com.au

Lisa Law: Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning, James Cook University

Working Group:

Belinda Allwood: People Oriented Design, Architect and Green Building Council of Australia accredited professional

Gisela Jung: CA Architects, Architect and Green Building Council of Australia accredited professional

Andrew McFadden: Peddle Thorpe Architects, Architect and Green Building Council of Australia accredited professional

Victor Adamczyk: ARUP, Engineer, representing Engineers Australia

Liam Kenny: Flanagan’s Consulting Group, Engineer, representing Engineers Australia

Chris Di Marco: Di Marco Designs, Building Designer representing the Building Designers Association of Queensland

Jane Hall: Enaj Building Design, Building Design representing the Building Designers Association of Queensland


Jane Kennedy

Shokhida Safarova


Very special thanks goes to over 100 people that have contributed their time to compiling the first round of case studies.


Cairns City View, Photograph by Matthew Kenwrick