Five steps in Australian environmental planning

From Architecture and Design

ONE

Sydney City Council wants its homes and businesses to reduce energy consumption by nearly a third, slash energy bills by $600 million, and cut carbon emissions by two million tonnes a year by 2030, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. But the Energy Efficiency Master Plan, which details these aims and includes an analysis of buildings by consultants pitt&sherry, will not happen without federal and state action and private sector involvement.

“There are opportunities for building retrofits and tune-ups, improved compliance and targets for existing building codes and mandatory disclosure of energy performance for buildings,” the council’s chief operating officer Kim Woodbury said. The new policies, if adopted, could lead to a doubling of carbon dioxide savings over levels reached with existing policies, he added.

TWO

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Image: The Australian

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Image: The Australian

Queensland Labor brought the focus back to its environmental policies when, in the election lead-up, it made commitments to work towards achieving Green Star ratings for government-owned buildings and identifying where these buildings could make best-value improvements.

To support this approach, the Palaszczuk Government referred to a survey last year that found that 98 per cent of Queenslanders believe that the state’s hospitals should be efficient, healthy and cost effective, with the Green Building Council also reporting that 96 per cent believe the same for schools.

THREE

The first 5 Star Green Star – Communities rating has been awarded to Curtin University in Western Australia for its master plan to transform its Bentley Campus through urban renewal and sustainable design. The 20-year plan is for 114 hectares of education, business, technology, housing, public transport, arts and recreation regeneration, starting with Stage 1 Wesfarmers Court, which opened last December and has been described as a “dynamic, economic and innovative hub”.

FOUR

Adelaide CBD. Image: News.com.au

Adelaide CBD. Image: News.com.au

The recently announced South Australian building upgrade agreements, which allows commercial building owners to access loans to improve the environmental efficiency of their buildings, is another great state initiative to ensure a more sustainable built environment.

Tying the financing of upgrades to the property rather than the property owner, the agreements effectively eliminate the problem of tenants gaining all the benefits of energy efficiency while the owners bear the costs. It is anticipated that spreading the load like this will be an incentive for building owners to make their buildings as energy efficient as possible.

FIVE

Environmental outcomes are also part of the five-part test from the Australian Consultation Industry Forum “of whether a project has been successful”. Other items in the test include whether the finance objectives been met, if the team wants to work together again, and if community and stakeholder expectations for safety, design and social objectives been met or exceeded.

Author: Deborah Singerman runs her own writing, editing and project managing consultancy specialising in the urban built environment and community.  @deborahsingerma

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