Rebecca Vassarotti, the ACT Sustainable Building and Construction Minister, announced in late August that state and territory ministers had agreed to a national mandatory seven-star rating for new residential buildings, starting next October.
Unfortunately what has been happening for years in Canberra, being bad planning and development, looks to continue given the on-going bad decisions by the ACT’s planning minister and his bureaucrats in the planning directorate. Click here.
In Australia the government has completely messed up any opportunity to gain long-term economic sustainability for the country. We have just witnessed the current government do a dirty deal with another party led by a mining millionaire to do away with an opportunity for a just tax on the miners.
It was announced in the UK that the winner of a competition has proposed that to deal with population growth that new cities should be built nearby established ones. These would be garden cities connected back to the older city by public transport.
There is a very hard-hitting article in the August 2014 issue of The Monthly on how the two large supermarkets have been allowed to rip anyone and everyone off. Even more depressing is that it points to how we, as consumers, are continuing to allow this to happen.
The major point raised by the article is how this dominance of the two of these supermarkets has reduced the food security in this country.
I have said it before and am happy to say so again, I live in a suburb in Canberra that has a fabulous amount of trees. The amount of trees in the public arena, streets and parks etc, combined with those throughout the residential properties delivers an ambience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it. With our local trees comes other biodiversity and heaps of bird life. Researchers have just worked this out. Click here for a story on this.
The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) is a program based on the understanding that land is a crucial component of the built environment and can be planned, designed, developed, and maintained to protect and enhance the benefits we derive from healthy functioning landscapes. Sustainable landscapes create ecologically resilient communities better able to withstand and recover from episodic floods, droughts, wildfires, and other catastrophic events. They benefit the environment, property owners, and local and regional communities and economies.
“Urban agriculture is a phenomenon today,” said Farham Karim, an architectural historian at the University of Kansas, at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference in New Orleans. Upwards of 70 million people are now involved around the globe — on Farmville, at least, the popular game app, he laughed. But, in reality, there are many tens of millions farming on the ground, too. With all the growing interest, Karim played devil’s advocate, wondering: is urban agriculture scalable? And who is going to be doing all this urban farming? And if we know it’s not a cost-effective solution for solving the world’s food problems, why the persistent interest?
Is architecture is failing contemporary Sydney? Part One
There is no doubt that the City of Sydney and its harbour are magnificent to behold. (click on the photo to enlarge). The mix of built structures really makes for a view that demands you take the time to stare, contemplate and to just enjoy it for as long as it takes. However…..
Recent Canberra Government development announcements
In recent weeks and months there have been several significant development proposals announced by the territory (ACT) government in Canberra. If all the government’s ambitions come to fruition then residents about to witness some very serious alterations and additions to the make-up of several parts of the inner city urban fabric.
from The Guardian, Designing cities and factories with urban agriculture in mind. The Netherlands offers inspiration for designers looking to create environments that harvest water, energy and nutrients.
Urban farms are transforming inner city spaces – rooftops, infrastructure, streetscapes, building skin – into generative ecologies that support the lives of people, and pollinators too. They are bringing into cities, and into plain view, the natural systems that sustain urban life
The Huffington Post presents a wonderfully optimistic report about a city that is often regarded as being a terrible example of urban development. I disagree. It has many things wrong with it but if you spend time there you can see that there are some really great things happening. All cities have their problems and many do not much to boast about.
I remain skeptical about all the hype around green roofs and green walls. This is not to say that when delivered comprehensively, that green roofs can be very effective in reducing temperatures of the buildings. It is more that so many of the current crop of green roofs and green walls are token add-ons.
Despite the hype by the building companies and their contractors about how wonderful particular green walls and roofs are, many are superficial and deliver very limited benefit, if any. When done properly, a green roof can be a contributor to the green infrastructure of urban areas.
To quote from the article on The Nature of Cities” : The arguments for an urban Sustainable Development Goal are many. Urbanization has the ability to transform the social and economic fabric of nations and cities are responsible for the bulk of production and consumption worldwide, and are the primary engines of economic growth and development. Roughly three-quarters of global economic activity is urban, and as the urban population grows, so will the urban share of global GDP and investments.
The right to development for low-income and middle-income countries can only be realized through sustainable urbanization that addresses the needs of both rural and urban areas. It must also be recognized that cities are home to extreme deprivation and environmental degradation with one billion people living in slums. In many countries the number of slum dwellers has increased significantly in recent years, and urban inequality is deepening. see the full article here
This is a link to a review on the online Magazine: Metropolis.
I was attracted to this as I believe in suburbia but get very annoyed (or is that angry) about the way current planning and development agencies have gone about ruining concept of suburbia through their lack of care for developing sustainable settlements.
This new book is a comprehensive history that rescues the garden suburb from the periphery of urban design, and repositions it at the heart of the debate on cities.
At a conference organized by the National Council on Science and the Environment (NCSE) in Washington, D.C., Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, director of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy at Central European University, said “spreading today’s best building practices could hold energy costs steady,” but the big question is “how to get the public and private sectors to work together to make transformational change.”
The session then outlined some more problems limiting action on climate change, and the transformational solutions needed to solve them. Interestingly one of the problems first identified was to do with higher education. Another was the decision making processes. There were others such as water and energy wisdom. See the report on this session on The Dirt (ASLA) – click here
While the predictions forecast an increase in temperatures and a drier climate for places such as most of Australia, especially in the South East, the same predictions forecast much wetter conditions in countries in the north, such as the UK.
While the former predictions are starting to be fulfilled, the latter for the UK is now being questioned. That is, not whether they are true, but whether climate change has already affected the weather in the UK.
With the massive flooding now underway and more expected, these questions are being asked and answered by the scientists within their bureau of meteorology.
re-posted article: What are the social justice implications of urban ecology, and how can we make sure that “green cities” are not synonymous with “gentrified” or “exclusive” cities?
Here is Australia there is a lot of talk amongst city planners and such that there is a need for green cities, sustainable cities and lots more simplistic terms. It is very hard indeed to find amongst the rhetoric any realistic commitment to urban ecology.
The need to base all urban developments against a measure based around preserving and enhancing the soil, the ecology and the green infrastructure remains an optimistic wish for those interested in the survival of the planet. Current approaches to urban design and planning are still very much ‘business as usual’ with market forces, meaning the quick dollar, as the drivers and measures applied.
There are times here in the City of Canberra when one despairs at the actions of the planning authority in its spin about how it goes about the planning, design and redevelopment of Canberra’s suburbs. In short: It is shocking!
The authority uses all sorts of green wash in its spin. The planners within the authority still favour the so called market forces to translate their lose planning requirements to deliver what the local developers consider as adequate for residents. This means an extremely artificial nod to the urgent climate change adaptation issues that are impacting on our urban environments. Say no more.
A presentation: Turn your city to being an edible city
Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation will assist advocacy to deal with the forecasted food shortages as climate change kicks in. The presentation demonstrates how to turn a conventional community into an edible city. Learn how to transform unproductive spaces into agricultural landscapes that help fight obesity and reduce food deserts. Make sure you note the address and send it onto anyone in decision making roles.
Advocacy: Sustainable Landscapes – Revitalizing Cities with Parks
Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation should assist anyone with their advocacy for Revitalizing Cities with Parks. In these times of reactionary governments and tight budgets, it is important to maintain efforts to introduce the simple idea to create more parks.
I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.
As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.
A presentation: Urban Forests = Cleaner, Cooler Air
Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation will assist advocacy for more resource allocation for urban forests. Governments need to deal with climate change in the urban areas, and dealing with urban forests is a good place to concentrate some resources. The urban forest issues are linked to the population’s health and wellbeing and avoiding heat island effects.
Online Presentation: The Best Planned City: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System
Despite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.
There are a host of professions that could be showing much greater leadership. Many have learnt to be spin doctors and have filled pages with their commitments and their policies. All this is very nice and very polite.
We live in strange times. The former Australian Government had developed an international reputation for being in the business of looking after its people, of caring for the environment and for careful financial management.
The new Rabbott government is establishing itself as far more interested in the short term aim of providing for those who assisted it into power. This means handing decisions on social, financial and environmental issues back to the business lobby groups. This is the new version of government taking a back seat and allowing business to drive the agenda. In many cases, this means the business lobby groups are having government wind back programs, especially on any issues dealing with the environment. There’s a good piece in The Conversation on the attitude taken by this government to addressing climate change.
“Reverting to fossil fuels, phasing out of renewable energy incentives and increasing deforestation levels to accommodate expanding agriculture explains most of this. Which begs the question of Australia’s government: are you serious?” read the full article here.
You are urged to ‘watch this space’ for research and reports by scientists who have been carrying out research on Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health. To quote from their website:
Safeguarding future health in Australian cities, The CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship has funded scientists and researchers from a range of disciplines to develop adaptation strategies which will improve the health of urban populations in the face of a variable and changing climate.
The Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health Cluster was established in 2010 and officially launched in March 2011 at a Conference in Cairns, bringing together nine different partner organisations focusing on 7 major research projects.
In Australia planning authorities and government administrative services sections still do not address the proven links between health and the access to open spaces. One has to only look to the small budgets for parks initiatives and worse still to the shrinking allocations for park maintenance within local governments.
Meanwhile all our governments are under stress because of the increasing requirements being identified under their health portfolios.
What’s cranking up the heat across south-eastern Australia?
re-posted from The Conversation, Tess Parker, 13 January 2013
In the midst of a January heatwave in South East Australia, with temperature outside being around 40 degrees Celsius for several days, it is refreshing to see the science being discussed as to what happens and why. As usual there will be the trolls who try to distract the facts being put forward. I for one thank the researchers who continue to seek evidence based answers to the many queries around weather and the links to climate change. Here’s the link to the piece by Tess Parker, on The Conversation
It is about equating the Natural Environment of National Parks to the natural environment of Cities – there are the one environment!
Many the time I have had frustrating debates with bureaucracies over how we address the issues of biodiversity and landscape. Often it results in the otherwise intelligent bureaucrat insisting that we talk about two separate entities, the built environment and the natural environment. This perception has also surfaced in discussions with organisations such as Conservation Foundations and their like.
If cities look to stay within their boarders, there is the need to seek acceptable ways to intensify the number of residents within the older suburbs. This requires an intelligent engagement with the present residents of suburban areas on a case by case basis.
Given the need to address climate change within the suburbs as they are being redeveloped and upgraded throws up a host of requirements that should have by now have been built into legislation. Sadly this is not so as most of the re-development and intensification as been left to laissez-faire market forces.
Design Strategies for the Post Carbon World, Parick M Condon
Questions of how to green the North American economy, create a green energy and transportation infrastructure, and halt the deadly increase in greenhouse gas buildup dominate our daily news. Related questions of how the design of cities can impact these challenges dominate the thoughts of urban planners and designers across the U.S. and Canada.
With admirable clarity, Patrick Condon discusses transportation, housing equity, job distribution, economic development, and ecological systems issues and synthesizes his knowledge and research into a simple-to-understand set of urban design rules that can, if followed, help save the planet.
No other book so clearly connects the form of our cities to their ecological, economic, and social consequences. No other book takes on this breadth of complex and contentious issues and distills them down to such convincing and practical solutions. And no other book so vividly compares and contrasts the differing experiences of U.S. and Canadian cities.