Ed Cotter, BioRegional Australia, looks at a mixed use eco-village in Melbourne and sees how attitudes to sustainability are changing.
Back in September 2011, BioRegional and the Centre for Design at RMIT University, hosted a two-day workshop to look at how the principles that underpinned the BedZED eco-village could be brought to Melbourne. At the workshop, some of the brightest mind across the development sector, including property developers, consultants and academics, explored how the use of the One Planet principles might be applied.
One of the development projects that workshop participants looked at, for the potential application of the 10 One Planet principles, was the WestWyck EcoVillage located in Brunswick (Melbourne, Australia).
Influenced by best practice demonstration projects, such as BedZED, the WestWyck EcoVillage has adopted a holistic approach to sustainability, through its commitment to delivering ‘sustainable infrastructure’ and its ethos on fostering a sense of community for residents.
The WestWyck EcoVillage occupies the buildings and grounds of the former Brunswick West Primary School located in inner urban Melbourne. Back in the 1980s the heritage-listed building was threatened to become yet another example of quality inner-urban infrastructure that had lost its original function and faced the bulldozer. Instead, the WestWyck EcoVillage developers, Mike Hill (former mayor of Brunswick)and Lorna Pitt, purchased the land on which the building stood and set about bringing the site back to life as an urban demonstration of sustainable development and high quality urban design.
The first stage in the development of the WestWyck EcoVillage, completed in 2008, featured key initiatives, such as high levels of social connectivity, and an integrated sustainability package of measures that paid close attention to reducing the impacts of energy, water, materials and waste.
The second stage, with construction scheduled to start in 2012, aims to enhance these initial measures and initiatives, while looking to strengthen mobility, connectivity and alternative travel modes to round off the range of sustainability issues addressed by the project.
Mike Hill, Director WestWyck EcoVillage, laughs when he is asked what some of the biggest challenges were for the first stage, and if anything has changed for the second stage.
“When we discussed our plans with the bank for the 1st stage of WestWyck, we were advised to remove several of the social initiatives that were deemed too difficult to provide finance around. This included an extensive garden allotment and a range of communal spaces that helped facilitated interaction between the residents. For the 2nd stage the bank actually recommended that we incorporate the same social initiatives that they had previously advised us not to include. Their reasoning was that in the Brunswick and Moreland area there was a ‘market’ for such initiatives and it added value to the property, with buyers willing to pay for these sustainability features”.
The WestWyck EcoVillage challenged Melbourne’s traditional development model by achieving a high level of social interaction between residents and the surrounding community, while maximising the ecologically sustainable development outcomes of the project. It is a real example of how a smaller development project can effectively incorporate the 10 One Planet principles into its DNA.
The project is set to become one of the first ‘endorsed’ One Planet Communities in Australia.
The WestWyck EcoVillage is part of an international trial network for users of the One Planet Open Source approach to sustainable living. One Planet Open Source is a proposed new initiative to help organisations adopt the One Planet principles with little or no direct liaison with BioRegional. Other projects in Melbourne using the One Planet principles through an Open Source approach include:
WestWyck EcoVillage – http://www.westwyck.com/
The Commons – http://7florence.st/
Cape Patterson EcoVillage* – http://www.capepatersonecovillage.com.au/
If you’re interested in participating in using the One Planet principles please contact Ed Cotter via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Over two days in September, key decision and policy makers from across industry and government gathered to consider how to tackle the key sustainability challenges facing Melbourne and Australia, both now and in the future. With Melbourne’s population set to grow from four to five million by 2030 and the long life-span of the built environment, it was agreed by attendees that the homes and communities built during this period will help set the course for Melbourne’s form and function into the next century.
On day one, Ralph Horne, Director of the Centre for Design, facilitated proceedings, helping participants to identify the key issues and challenges that they face on their own projects. The day began with our own Pooran Desai giving an overview of BioRegional, BedZED and the One Planet Living principles. Pru Sanderson, former VicUrban CEO, then ran through the sustainability issues that Melbourne faces and identified eight key factors that both industry and government need to address:
1. Too much going right in Melbourne [so no pressure to change]
2. Melbournian’s civic pride
3. Population Growth
4. Density – general a low density city
5. The ‘castle’ mentality
6. Fear of the unknown
7. Power of inertia
8. Fear of engagement
A diverse series of prominent speakers, including Stella Avramopoulos (CEO – Kildonan Uniting Care), David Waldren (Grocon – General Manager) and Kerry Thompson (CEO – Wyndham City Council), then provided insight into a range of issues that they are dealing with on a daily basis; from tight development margins and confusion within the market place to the financial stress of homeowners located on the fringes of outer Melbourne.
That afternoon it was down to business, with attendees working in small groups to ‘unpack’ the issues highlighted by the panel and consider whether BioRegional and the One Planet principles has a role to play in making Melbourne more sustainable. The issues and opportunities highlighted in the session set the agenda for the next day’s workshop.
On day two, Mike Hill, Co-founder of WestWyck EcoVillage, facilitated. Our aims were to identify potential pilot sustainability projects, brainstorm ideas for Open Sourcing the One Planet principles and communicating the benefits of sustainability.
To get things rolling, Mike called for attendees to volunteer projects as case studies and answer the following questions:
- Why would the One Planet principles apply to the project?
- What gaps are there in the sustainability sector tools and support systems?
- How can the One Planet principles help plug the gaps?
- Is there an argument for officially joining the One Planet initiative?
Some of the projects that the One Planet principles were applied to include a large greenfield development site, a small urban infill development, a local council area and a small regional town. Attendees dived straight into this session, working in teams to respond to each of the objectives, while debating how best to apply the One Planet principles.
So, are the One Planet principles useful for urban development in the state of Victoria? The overwhelming response from the attendees was an emphatic YES, followed by – how can we get involved? This is a great start and we’ll keep you updated on further developments…
To find out how you can work with BioRegional to apply Ecological footprinting and the One Planet principles on your next project, please contact us.
BioRegional would like to thank Ralph, Paula and the rest of the team at RMIT University’s Centre for Design who hosted the event in partnership with BioRegional Australia. In addition the BioRegional Australia team would like to thank Mike Hill – without his support this event would never have happened.
In the next edition of One Planet News there will be a feature article on our ideas for Open Sourcing the One Planet principles.
31 August – 1 September 2011: Government Sustainability Conference (Hall Edit) One Planet Regions – A practical tool to assist local authorities in achieving sustainability
Melbourne, Victoria – Edward Niembro, One Planet Communities network Australia Representative, will give a presentation on the One Planet Regions program that is assisting councils to fill in gaps in their sustainability policies and how Australian councils can be recognised as green councils at next years Rio Earth Summit in June 2012.
For more infomation on the conference, please visit:
26-27 July , 2011: Critical Mass On-line Planning Institute of Australia Conference Ideas and Innovation – One Planet Communities
Edward Niembro, OPC Australia representative, will give a presentation on the successful One Planet Communities program that is creating ‘green’ flagship communities around the world.
To join the online conference, please click here.
BioRegional is launching an Expert Panel for the One Planet initiative, which will draw on the knowledge and experience of leading names in international sustainability to help keep the One Planet initiative and its endorsed partners and projects at the cutting edge of green thinking and technology.
With an initial focus on the One Planet Communities programme, panel members have been selected for their expertise in areas including urban planning, green building, ecological footprinting, policy, and campaigning.
Its six independent members are: Susan Burns, CEO of ecological footprinting think tank, Global Footprint Network; Jim Heid, President and co-founder of US based sustainable development advisory company, UrbanGreen; Kevin Hydes, CEO of deep green building services engineering company, Integral Group and former Chair of the World Green Building Council; Tony Juniper, UK based author and environmental campaigner; Professor Li Shirong, Professor of construction management at Chongqing University and Deputy Director General of Chongqing Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Commission, China; and Raf Tuts, Chief of the Urban Environment and Planning Branch, UN-HABITAT.
They are joined by representatives from BioRegional’s endorsed One Planet Communities partner organisations, with their experience of practical delivery of the One Planet Communities programme: Pete Halsall, BioRegional Quintain Ltd; Geof Syphers, Codding Enterprises and Paulo Reis Silva, Pelicano.
The One Planet Communities programme is using the concepts of One Planet Living and sustainable ecological footprint to create a network of the earth’s greenest neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods will be showcased at the Rio+20 World Summit in 2012 to demonstrate to policy makers, business leaders and civil society that it can be easy, attractive and affordable for people to live happy and healthy lives within a fair share of the earth’s resources. BioRegional are excited and pleased to have the support of the Expert Panel in making this happen.
The Panel will be run using a virtual network, with three group sessions each year – the first is scheduled for 17th March.
Lend Lease’s Barangaroo South development has reached a major milestone with the amended concept plan gaining approval, ensuring that the project can look forward to construction starting in 2011. The One Planet Action Plan is being amended to accommodate the changes made to the concept plan and will be submitted shortly to BioRegional’s endorsement process with a view to becoming an endorsed One Planet Community. For more information on the amended concept plan, click here.
In addition, designs for the Barangaroo Headland Park have gone on public display and feedback is being sought from the community. The One Planet Action Plan has been completed by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and submitted to BioRegional for endorsement consideration. For more detail about Headland Park plans, click here.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has featured One Planet Communities in their new 30WAYSin30DAYS climate change campaign. The campaign states: “UNEP’s 30 case studies prove that solutions to combat Climate Change are available, accessible and replicable”
Tune into your region’s CNBC channel at the following times to see several of the ground-breaking projects showcased and an interview with International Director, Pooran Desai OBE:
1st Broadcast: 30 October 17:30 SIN/HK Time
2nd Broadcast: 31 October 09:30 SIN/HK Time
1st Broadcast: 30 October 08:30 CET
2nd Broadcast: 30 October 13:30 CET
Single Broadcast: 30 October 16:00 EST
If you miss the broadcast the film will go up on www.oneplanetcommunities.org early next week.
A new United Nations report, TRENDS IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION, identifies 8 case studies of sustainable communities around the world – and 6 of the 8 are One Planet Communities! Sonoma Mountain Village, Mata de Sesimbra, Masdar City, Barangaroo, Panyu Jinshan, and BedZED all earn mention.The report was produced by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.
Download Report (13MB)
Lend Lease have been selected as the developer for the Barangaroo South development, adjacent to Sydney Harbour Bridge and the largest development in the history of Sydney. BioRegional have been working with Lend Lease on the sustainability strategy. Lend Lease are committed to developing a One Planet Action Plan for the site, and hopefully progressing to full One Planet Community endorsement.
For more information visit the Lend Lease website here.