Office space and research company Regus has found that two fifths of Australian professionals work six-day weeks. It suggested that working overtime is more palatable if you work closer to home, or even at home, and can work flexibly and spend less time travelling to and from your workplace.
Melbourne’s 20-minute city model, aiming for every suburb to be a short commute to essentials such as jobs, schools, shops and leisure, also appeals as a way of reducing fuel use (and stress).
Energy efficiency and keeping cool was also on the Federal Government’s mind, as it announced a plan for increasing tree canopy coverage every decade until 2050. There is also a government commitment to "look at building rooftops with green cover".
The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils is pushing along with this urban canopies’ approach. The councils cover suburbs that are too far away from the coast to catch full sea breezes. Dr Brent Jacobs, research director for the Institute of Sustainable Futures and the University of Technology, Sydney, said, “We have a legacy of past development that didn't account for urban heat islands and pressure for new, affordable housing developments to accommodate population growth."
There is a danger that we will continue to produce “the same types of residential development and we have big legacy effects from where we've had residential development in the past and we haven't really revegetated after development has gone in.”
The Sydney Morning Herald has also reported on other councils such as the proactive Blacktown City Council’s urban heat project, called The Cool Streets. "We have designed streetscapes that lower temperatures by combining deciduous and evergreen trees to provide different shade cover throughout the year," said deputy mayor, Jacqueline Donaldson.
Penrith has completed a Cooling the City Strategy, with green infrastructure planning features including water features, the use of lighter-coloured building materials and up to 4000 new trees, according to Jenny Guice, senior sustainability planner.
There is so much potential to expand the canopy cover. The 2014 report by the Institute of Sustainable Futures, which mapped and assessed 139 local government areas across Australia, found that only 39 per cent had tree canopy cover.
Which makes the NSW Government’s decision to target the destruction of trees along the central business district light rail project all the more difficult to accept. Total Environment Centre Director Jeff Angels, said, “The Baird Government is waging a war on trees. When options are weighed up, the trees always come last, which means the biosphere so vital to our survival comes last.”