Adopting the Sustainable Development Goals is a Business Opportunity for Australia

It has been 25 years since Australia last experienced a recession. We’ve had an extraordinary period of uninterrupted economic growth – the longest in modern history – and this has greatly increased our prosperity.

Thanks to the abundance of natural resources needed to build roads, railways and skyscrapers in fast-growing cities across Asia, Australia’s economy has had a good run over the past quarter century.

But an expanding list of environmental, health and social burdens risk undermining our growth model. Business as usual is not an option. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015, are 17 goals for ending poverty, transforming health and education, improving our cities and communities, addressing gender equity and tackling urgent challenges such as climate change. Collectively, they propose a new development pathway, based on partnership between governments, civil society and business that could transform our societies.

Photo: article supplied

Take our cities, for example. Cities are the economic powerhouses of our country, especially since the end of the mining boom (our capital cities alone generate around two-thirds of our GDP). Cities matter more than ever to our future employment and prosperity, but our urban quality of life is deteriorating. We spend on average 85 minutes a day commuting, up from 50 minutes half a century ago. Congestion already costs our capital cities $16.5bn annually, and that could double by 2030. The affordability of housing nationwide has more than halved since 1980, locking many out of the Australian dream.

Our urban lifestyles have become a growing burden on our health, too. A rising set of noncommunicable diseases, such as obesity, are posing massive challenges for the health system. In 2015, almost two in three Australian adults were overweight or obese.

The labour force is changing dramatically. A report completed by AlphaBeta for the Foundation for Young Australians found that 70% of young people currently enter the workforce in jobs that will be radically affected by automation and imports over the next 10 to 15 years.

This article was originally published by The Guardian.

Click here to read the entire article.


Sustainable Urban Design with Dean Landy, ClarkeHopkinsClarke

Dean Landy, ClarkeHopkinsClarke

ClarkeHopkinsClarke (CHC) is an award-winning Melbourne-based architecture practice with over 55 years experience across the education, health care, aged care, mixed-use, retail, multi-residential and urban design sectors. The practice’s underlying philosophy is to create vibrant communities that have a strong sense of identity, and are a pleasure to visit and inhabit.

With over 14 years’ experience as a registered architect, Dean Landy is well regarded for his strong capability in the planning and design of Retail & Mixed Use projects as well as Multi-Residential, Commercial and Community Infrastructure projects. Dean is also the founding member and director of One Heart Foundation – a not-for-profit foundation that exists to change the future of orphaned and abandoned children living in poverty in Kenya.

Q. What are some of the most pressing challenges currently facing the architecture and development industry?

Looking at this from the perspective of an architect and urban designer involved in the design and development of many new town centres across Victoria, I feel that socially the most pressing challenge is around how we as a profession can help create more liveable, affordable and vibrant places for people to live, specifically in Australia’s growth areas which often face higher levels of social disadvantage and related health issues.

A key challenge is figuring out how we can offer greater housing diversity to address the issue of affordability, but to do so in a way that offers an appealing lifestyle choice. People need to be able to buy something that may be smaller in size but is still good quality and provides great amenity. I can see that by designing smaller dwellings, apartments and townhouses in growth areas, we can provide affordable housing options to first homebuyers through to downsizers, and in doing so provide the higher density required to support more walkable, mix of use village centres.

The challenge is about creating appealing places where people want to live and we cannot assume that everyone aspires to live in a 4-bedroom house with a double garage. The millennial generation has a much different set of requirements in where they choose to live.

Q. Do you believe architects have a responsibility to improve the happiness and health of people living in their projects and communities?

I am a big believer that architects and urban designers play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of residents.

Some developers have a good understanding of this and can appreciate their role in creating healthier, more liveable communities. I find that we can often bring a discussion to the table about the different groups that help create healthier communities such as community groups and services, clubs sports groups through to larger health care providers. These are factors that don’t often get considered in the creation of village centres or urban infill type projects.

Architects and designers need to lead that discussion and have the experience of what’s needed to complete the ‘puzzle’. When meeting with the developer we will put ideas forward and advise them how to put a methodology in place to make sure it is considered from the outset.

We need to take into consideration what elements will stimulate greater happiness, health and wellbeing and provide a place for people to connect to. This is especially true in areas where there is no community represented such as greenfield areas we are master planning. In those cases it is about having that understanding of all the different elements that need to come together to build a future community and provide the diversity to attract a broad demographic. To read more click here.

The 9th International Urban Design Conference; Smart Cities for 21st Century Australia – How urban design innovation can change our cities  will be held at Hyatt Canberra from 7th-8th November 2016 with optional tours available on Wednesday 9th November.

Registrations are now open. CLICK HERE to register for the Conference. Early bird closes 26th September 2016 so be quick to receive a discounted rate.

This years’ theme, will focus on an understanding of what makes a city ‘smart’ from a urban design perspective and how the built environment develops during the city planning process.

Speaker Opportunity – Last chance for abstracts

Authors or organisations interested in presenting at the 9th International Urban Design Conference are invited to submit an abstract. To submit an abstract CLICK HERE. Abstracts close 25th July 2016.

Sustainable Urban Design for Green Living and Learning

eco sustainable homesEco sustainable homes and sustainable urban architectural design are at the forefront of the Batimat show in Paris. The aptly named Be-Green Houses prove it really is easy being Green, and it can be done in total comfort and style. This pair of contemporary house plans incorporates all the essentials into a colorful, bright design. Some spaces, such as the laundry and terrace, are designed as shared spaces, while others are conventional by all accounts – apart from their amazing eco-friendly appeal.

These eco house designs incorporate passive solar technologies, and use natural and recycled materials such as the hardwood flooring with VOC-free finishes. Photovoltaic roof panels and a thermal hot water system allow these sustainable houses to function off the grid, while the green roof and a living wall do their part keep the environment while adding an organic ambience to the urban houses. And because learning is the key to enlightenment and, in the long run, change, this home features a monitoring system that tells residents exactly how much energy they’re using and when, allowing them to adjust their consumption. To read more click here.

The 9th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Hyatt Canberra 7th-8th November 2016 with optional tours available on Wednesday 9th November.

Registrations are now open. CLICK HERE to register for the Conference.

This years’ theme, Smart Cities for 21st Century Australia – How urban design innovation can change our cities”  will focus on an understanding of what makes a city ‘smart’ from a urban design perspective and how the built environment develops during the city planning process.

Authors or organisations interested in presenting at the 9th International Urban Design Conference are invited to submit an abstract. To submit an abstract CLICK HERE.

Conference topics will include:

  • How to make a city smart?
  • Sustainability in a smart city
  • Urban design innovation for smart cities
  • City Infrastructure
  • Urban design opportunities in high density living areas
  • Mixing up residential and commercial uses  in inner cities
  • Population change and liveability
  • Housing affordability
  • Financing city development
  • What future for car dependent cities like Canberra?
  • Politics and city form: lessons learnt from the City of Canberra, and other Australian cities
  • Open


Urban design to shape sustainable cities

sustainable-citiesPersonal heaters are a summer survival tool for many office workers chilled to the bone by hyperactive ventilation systems — an act of self-defense against an epidemic of overcooling that is wasting energy and confounding comfort in not only offices but also large shops, schools and other buildings.

An audit of U.S. government buildings found that over three-fifths of their occupants felt too cold in the summer. The most likely culprit behind this big chill? Engineering conventions — slavish adherence to unfounded and outdated rules of thumb that cause mis-programming of air conditioning systems.

Frozen spaces are but one chilling case of an iceberg of waste. Many technologies, practices and systems that we interact with every day are shaped by default settings in the form of “established practice,” professional standards and design codes. Many deliver dysfunction and overconsumption by design.

Zoning rules preclude the construction of affordable microhomes. An outmoded presumption of universal automobile ownership begets wide streets and “gargantuan” gaps between intersections that hog-tie urban planners working to increase density.

Default settings dial in waste in all manner of electronic devices, keeping video game boxes on perpetual standby and pre-programming irrigation controllers to drown gardens in wasted water. And many such controllers revert to their wasteful factory defaults every time there is a power outage, undermining any conservation impulses consumers might have had.
Dysfunctional default settings can take decades to set right.The flip side, however, is that confronting problematic design defaults can open some surprising opportunities to improve living, save money, reduce pollution and conserve precious resources from energy to water to open space — sometimes all at the same time.

Breaking through decades of inertia to overcome embedded defaults will require that engineers, design professionals and policy-makers admit they may have been wrong or even irrational in the past and become activists for reexamining our assumptions about the way things need to be.

And it will require patience: As reformers such as Jeff Speck, a Boston-based city planner and architect and author of “Walkable City,” have documented, dysfunctional default settings can take decades to set right. To read more click here.

The 9th International Urban Design Conference will be held in Melbourne in November.  To express your interest in the 2016 Conference CLICK HERE.

smartforme and Vancouver’s MC2 residential development

The 8th International Urban Design Conference will be held at the Sofitel Brisbane from Monday 16 November to Wednesday 18 November 2015. This years’ theme titled Empowering Change: Transformative Innovations and Projects will focus on inspirational changes in urban environments.

Joining us all the way from North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Mr Roger Bayley, Program Director at smartforme, will be discussing Vancouver’s MC2 residential development – A Case Study for the funding and operation of integrated heating, cooling and domestic hot water technology.


Intracorp’s MC2 residential project provides a total of 554 suites in two towers with a significant rental component and will be completed by December 2015. The project incorporates a first-of-its-kind energy recycling initiative for high-rise residential development.

The MC2 project incorporates Vancouver’s first large scale Air to Water heat pump energy technology coupled with dynamic in-suite radiators that deliver both heating and cooling based on recycling atmospheric energy. The program recycles cooling energy for preheating domestic hot water and reduces overall carbon emissions in the order of 70% from standard gas fired business-as-usual designs. Consumers benefit from direct consumption allocation based on in-suite metering that supports energy conservation and provides system management and performance optimization.

For more information on the 8th International Urban Design Conference in Brisbane, Australia please visit our website.