Are sustainable houses worth more?

AFR, 11 September 2015.

 'We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid': builder Jeremy Spencer inside the environmentally sustainable house he has designed for his family in Seaholme in western Melbourne. Pat Scala

‘We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid’: builder Jeremy Spencer inside the environmentally sustainable house he has designed for his family in Seaholme in western Melbourne. Pat Scala

Jeremy Spencer built a house for his family and parents to move into last year. The three-bedroom, two-storey house in Seaholme, in Melbourne’s west, meets several needs – it’s accessible in its design, with wide passageways, ramps and counter-hung benches that permit his wheelchair-bound father to fully participate in the family life.

It’s also sustainable. The house is built with materials such as a recycled concrete-and-glass slab and recycled bricks on the inside to create a thermal mass that absorbs northern sun in winter and diffuses it at night. It also has a solar panel system on the roof.

“Our heating and cooling expenses are extremely low,” Mr Spencer said. “We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid when we produce excess.”

Spencer’s house cost $525,000, or $2200 per square metre and it’s one of a range that his design and construction firm Positive Footprints builds. So how much more does sustainability cost?

“With all houses we’re putting about $20,000 of extra stuff in,” Mr Spencer said.

It pays off.

“The average Melbourne home has a power bill of about $2300 per year,” he said. “That’s the sort of savings that we’re getting.”

Read the full article and more on sustainable housing here.

Karen Corr of Make a Change Australia to present at the Australian Regional Development Conference

Karen Corr, Director of Make a Change Australia to to present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held next week (26– 27 August 2015) at the Commercial Club Albury.

The Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation.

Karen Corr

Karen Corr

Speaker Introduction: Karen Corr is an engineer turned changemaker, social entrepreneur and facilitator. She is the founder and Director of Make a Change Australia, an organization set up to empower people to create change in their own communities.

Karen spent 10 years working as an Environmental Engineer providing technical services and water modeling, sustainability strategies and specialist consulting with a firm focus on the triple bottom line.

In 2009 Karen started her own business EcoSuccess providing sustainability & project management services for business & community. In addition to running her business, Karen invested substantially in local leadership positions including the Inaugeral President of the Bendigo Sustainability Group and Chair of the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance.

Karen is a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and was awarded the accolade of Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012. She was a 2014 Victorian State Finalist of the Rural Women’s Award.

It was during her time at the School of Social Entrepreneurs that the idea for Make a Change Australia was born. Since then she has been developing and implementing innovative programs to empower people to create change in their communities such as the Inspiration Café, Outside the Square, Expand Your Impact and Let’s Nut it Out initiatives. Whilst delivering the majority of her work in Central Victoria, a new partnership with Jump Leads NFP provides the possibility for further expansion across regional Australia.

Presentation Title: Just like LEGO! Building Bridges – Connecting Sectors. Community Engagement that works.
Co-Author: Sharon Seyd, Director at Jump Leads NFP

Overview: Local Councils are committed to progress, community development and public service. They are the responsible public authority, required to adopt transparent and sometimes cumbersome protocols. These systems that hold Councils to account are necessary, critical in fact – but they can sometimes stand in the way of the dynamic interaction with local communities.

To view and/or download the Australian Regional Development Conference program please click here.

A/Prof Patrick Beale to present on ‘Delivering high quality cost and climate effective buildings to regional and remote Australia’

Associate Professor Patrick Beale Discipline Chair, Architecture at the University of Western Australia will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held in Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Patrick Beale

Patrick Beale

Speaker Introduction: Patrick Beale Studied Architecture at the Architectural Association in London, and has practiced and taught Architecture and design in London, France, the Middle East, Scandinavia, North America and Australia where he is now based. At the University of Western Australia Patrick was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Architecture Landscape and Visual Arts in 2000, a position he stepped aside from to establish a timber research centre in 2005.

Over the past decade Patrick has worked with various sectors of rural industries and has directed a number of design projects directed at enhancing the value of native west Australian timbers and promoting the ecological and sustainable values of building in solid and engineered timbers. He currently directs the Advanced Timber Concepts Studio at UWA, a commercial design and research studio and a teaching entity.

Presentation Title: Delivering high quality cost and climate effective buildings to regional and remote Australia. The case for development of a specialist industry.

Overview: Over the past decade Patrick has had the opportunity to work with a number of regional and remote shires to design and deliver high quality, cost effective and climate appropriate buildings in Western Australia. Like many other parts of regional Australia, WA has seen its rural industry infrastructure eroded over the past 20 years as populations in rural shires have declined and economic activity has concentrated around one or two large industrial sectors, agriculture and mining. The building industry is one that has declined most significantly in WA with the result that procuring good quality buildings, or indeed buildings of any quality to regional and remote areas has either commanded a premium of up to 70 % over metropolitan prices or has meant procuring transportable buildings with poor durability and poor quality and performance but still at a cost premium.

The presentation will make the case for re-thinking the conventional building procurement process, taking advantage of modern methods of off-site construction and delivery of prefinished or partly finished products to site. Four case studies will be presented of completed buildings, domestic and community structures, and will analyse the cost effectiveness and quality outcomes and the design and fabrication processes. The paper will also discuss the change that is necessary in a sector of the construction industry in order for this sort of methodology to become the norm rather than the exception, and the relevance of the processes involved in these prototype projects to the building industry as a whole. The case will be put forward for this industry to be located in regional Australia rather than in metropolitan centres. [272]

About the Conference
The Australian Regional Development Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. The 2015 theme is “Redefining the Future of Regional Australia”, it will explore the issues and opportunities facing Regional Australia today and into the future.

Concurrent streams will focus on the following topics:

  • Sustainability / Renewables
  • Population Movements
  • Community Development
  • Government Policy
  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

To view and/or download the Conference program, please visit the website here.

To register and for more information on the event, please click here.

 

Director of MRA Consulting, Mike Ritchie to present on Waste Trends and Regionalisation

Mike Ritchie, Director of MRA Consulting will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held in Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Mike Ritchie

Mike Ritchie

Speaker Introduction: Mike Ritchie is the Director of MRA consulting where his 20 years experience in environmental policy and business development has facilitated the company’s growth in waste, resource recovery and carbon management.

Prior to launching MRA, he was National General Manager – Business Development and Marketing with SITA, General Manager of Services at Waste Service NSW and State Manager of VISY. He has worked in local government as senior advisor to the Mayor of Brisbane and as a Director of Liverpool City Council.

He was National Vice President of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA), past President of WMAA NSW, Chair of the Carbon Division of WMAA, and is current Chair of the AWT Division.

He was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Waste and Resource Recovery Governance Reform appointed by the Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change. He was a contributor to the national “Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coast” Assessment Report.

Mike works with governments and businesses across Australia to develop innovative and cost effective waste and recycling strategies, technologies and services.

Presentation Title: Waste Trends and Regionalisation

Overview: Australia generates 46.8 MT of waste. Despite steady increases in the rate of recovery (av. 52%), the waste generated between 2002/03 and 2008/09 grew by 40%, while population increased by only 10% (SoE Report NSW, 2013). There are more of us but we are consuming proportionally more each year per person.

Waste generation has been growing at a historic average of 4-7% per year and still is. That means the amount of waste the industry has to process is doubling every ten to eighteen years. Generally, recycling is not growing at a rate fast enough to reduce waste to landfill by much.

Overall, pricing landfills, driving recycling initiatives and diverting waste back to the productive economy is neither easy nor cheap. Ultimately, it is the role of Government to decide the extent and speed of the transition from landfill to resource recovery, or not. It is the function of government to weigh the competing interests of resources, sustainability and cost. The industry is there to assist and invest where it can, once the direction is set.

One method to improve resource recovery is to consolidate regional landfills via conversion into transfer stations. Significant cost savings and environmental benefit can be realised through this process. Consolidation of these landfill assets is an easy win in terms of cost reduction and environmental improvement, including higher resource recovery rates.

The rationalisation of regional landfills can also benefit from assistance under Waste Less, Recycle More. The NSW EPA put aside $7 million to fund consolidation, closure and environmental improvements of landfills under the program.

Rationalisation of small landfill assets may also avoid the additional cost of licencing facilities under the updated NSW POEO Waste Regulations 2014, effective from November 1, 2014. Under the updated Regulations sites which accept more than 12,000 tonnes of material a year or have on site at any time more than 2,500 tonnes or 2,500 cubic metres of material will require a licence.

Beyond the cost, environmental and legal benefits of rural landfill consolidation, this rationalisation process will also centralise material volumes at larger sites. This also provides an opportunity to build new recovery infrastructure or improve the costs effectiveness of existing infrastructure via economies of scale.

About the Conference
The Australian Regional Development Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. The 2015 theme is “Redefining the Future of Regional Australia”, it will explore the issues and opportunities facing Regional Australia today and into the future.

Concurrent streams will focus on the following topics:

  • Sustainability / Renewables
  • Population Movements
  • Community Development
  • Government Policy
  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

To view and/or download the Conference program, please click here.  For information on registration or to book your delegate pass, visit the website here.

Helen Knight form Planisphere to present on ‘Landscape Character and Significance’

Helen Knight, Associate Senior Planner and Urban Designer at Planisphere to present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held in Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Helen Knight

Helen Knight

Speaker Introduction: Helen is a senior strategic planner and urban designer with extensive experience in both consulting and local government in Australia and overseas. Helen’s experience encompasses urban design, heritage planning, landscape assessment, structure planning, urban regeneration and strategic and statutory planning, in a variety of urban, regional and rural settings.

She has a keen appreciation of the built environment and a desire to better utilise the planning system to create urban places that are sustainable, memorable and people-focused. She brings a thoughtful and conscientious approach to her work, and produces high quality written and visual products.

Helen enjoys the process of working collaboratively with clients, the community and other consultants to develop a broad strategic vision for each project. She is skilled in translating this vision into detailed built form and public realm recommendations which can be readily implemented in the planning scheme or through ongoing management practices. Her training in architecture is evident in her work and her ability to reflect this in writing is a rare talent. Helen has been actively involved in the profession previously serving as the Urban Design Convenor on the PIA (Vic) Committee.

Presentation Title: Landscape Character and Significance, affecting policy
Co-Author: Isobel Maginn, Planner and Landscape Architect at Planisphere

Overview: The presentation will focus on the Landscape Character and Significance work prepared by Planisphere for a large proportion of rural and regional Victoria including the Victorian Coastline and the majority of Western and Northern Victoria, including the many varied landscapes of desert, agricultural plains and rugged uplands.

A methodology will be presented that has been pioneered over many years involving over twenty months of comprehensive research, extensive field survey work and a broad and inclusive consultation program which presents a thorough assessment of landscape character, areas and views of significance across Victoria.

The outputs of the Study will be used by a range of councils and key government agencies to better inform decision making through a more detailed consideration of impacts, opportunities and approaches to achieve improved siting and design outcomes for development within these important landscapes.

To view and/or download the Conference program, please click here.  For information on registration or to book your delegate pass, visit the website here.