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    Future focus: an update on Australia’s sustainability industry

    Deborah Singerman

    Infrastructure Australia came up with a 15-year Infrastructure Plan but the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) believes that should be doubled if we are to have “a clear pathway to sustainable and productive infrastructure”.

    The ASBEC report is based on the views of 35 building, government and academic representatives. President Ken Maher (pictured) said, “Australia needs sustainable and productive infrastructure – but our current infrastructure planning processes suffer from short-term thinking, politicisation, and funding constraints. The solution is a truly visionary, 30-year plan that can spot the gaps and priorities across the nation.”

    150203_MAher_tn_1_540bc36e.jpg“We know infrastructure is vitally important to Australia’s economy. Right now, governments need to work collaboratively with the private-sector to release new funds for infrastructure investment based on independent, transparent advice supported by broad cost-benefit analysis.”

    He criticised the short-term outlook of so many election-driven politicians who take “too long to make critical infrastructure decisions”, which is exacerbated by the endless scoping of projects and tenders’ processes.  ASBEC favours the long-term view and collaboration between community, industry and government guided by five pathways: Engagement, Planning, Decision, Funding and Execution.

    Also looking ahead, another large-scale property development has achieved a 5-Star Green Star – Communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. Ecco Ripley, located in the Ripley Valley just five kilometres from the centre of Ipswich in Queensland and one of Australia’s fastest-growing regions, joins just four other such 5-Star master-planned communities’ projects.

    eccorapley.JPGEcco Ripley Masterplan.

    Sekisui House’s design and development of the project is based on four design pillars: Environment, Connected, Community and Opportunity. Ripley Valley is an urban development area targeted to provide 50,000 new dwellings and 120,000 new residents, requiring a projected total of 60,000 new jobs to meet the population demand. Ipswich has been identified by the Intelligent Community Forum in New York as one of seven ‘”intelligent communities”, and many of the expected jobs will be in ICT, taking advantage of minimum 100 Mbps fibre-to-the-home connections.

    There will be substantial numbers of native trees, shrubs and ground cover; 76 hectares of recreation parks and gardens; a commitment from Sekisui House to 25 per cent of affordable, 10 per cent accessible and 5 per cent social housing; an arts and culture program;  and active transport with buses, off-road cycling and pedestrian footpaths as alternatives to the car.

    Staying in Queensland, Anthony Lieberman, Marketing and Communications Manager of SEE Sustainable Experience organisers, Australian Living, was optimistic that the first show “has certainly kick-started an agenda in Queensland. We see that there is real opportunity for green building practices and products to be adopted and used leading to the design and construction of many green buildings in Queensland.”

    Australian Living’s agenda, Lieberman says, is “to see green building practice deeply embedded into the design and construction of all buildings” and within this, he believes that industry professionals in Queensland “are hungry for innovative products and solutions. Clients too want to know how they can develop buildings that are energy efficient, water wise and healthy for residents, employees and tenants. There is also a thirst for information from the general public.”

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    Not be outdone, Coles in Hallam in south-east Melbourne became the first supermarket to have a life-cycle assessment and a15 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as part of its gaining a 4-Star Green Star rating, and the 5-Star Green Star ­Interiors rating for the WWF’s new-look Australian HQ includes such dependables as lots of plants, operable windows and recycled office furnishings.


    Deborah Singerman runs her own writing, editing and proofreading consultancy specialising in the urban built environment and community.  @deborahsingerman

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