30 July 2014 —The state of New Jersey in the US is developing a distributed energy system incorporating micro-grids and technologies such as combined heat and power cogeneration, fuel cells and off-grid solar inverters with battery storage in order to improve the community’s resilience in the event of natural disaster.
Following Hurricane Sandy, which left five million residents without power, the recognition climate change would result in increased risk of similar superstorms spurred the state...
30 July 2014 —IT giant Google is offering a million-dollar reward to engineering innovators who can design a functional solar power inverter the size of a tablet or iPad. The Little Box Challenge aims to find a functional technology which dramatically reduces the currently esky-sized inverter unit required to convert the power generated by solar photovoltaic systems into the alternating current used for household and office equipment.
The global, open competition will be won by the engineering...
29 July 2014 — The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Conservation Council of Western Australia have spoken out strongly against the WA Environmental Protection Agency’s conditional approval of Cameco’s proposed uranium mine situated adjacent to Kalamilyi National Park.
“Uranium mining is a high risk, low return activity where the proven risks far outweigh any promised rewards,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“Uranium is currently trading at US$28 a pound. Cameco has stated...
29 July 2014 — Environment groups across Australia have today slammed Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the $16.5 billion Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project in Queensland – to be the largest coal mine in the country – saying the minister’s talk of “strict conditions” is duplicitous.
Minister Hunt said the “absolute strictest of conditions” would be placed on the project, which Greenpeace has said will lead to an additional 128 million tonnes of carbon...
29 July 2014 — BRIEF: The Australian PV Institute has released a 3D modelling tool that allows consumers to estimate the electricity generation, cost savings and carbon reduction of putting solar panels on the roof.
The tool is part of updates to the Australian Solar Map, developed by APVI with $436,000 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
“The new, freely available tool allows consumers and installers to select a rooftop and receive an estimate of annual electricity generation,...
28 July 2014 — BRIEF: The Australian Institute of Architects has released a statement on the leaked draft apartment design standards from the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, which according to reports proposes minimum apartment sizes.
See our article NSW-style guidelines proposed for Melbourne’s high rise resi
Responding to developer claims that the move to mandate minimums would impact on housing affordability, national president David Karotkin said: “In reality, developers...
24 July 2014 — BRIEF: Perth is currently hosting a team of international and local IBM experts as part of an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant. The city is one of only 16 globally to be awarded the grant, which is valued at $500,000.
During the next three weeks, the IBM team will work in partnership with local stakeholders to explore the use and integration of data to help the city improve essential utilities and infrastructure services to citizens both now and in the future.
“We are very grateful...
24 July 2014 — BRIEF: A leaked report from Infrastructure Australia – Spend more, waste more, Australia’s roads in 2014: moving beyond gambling – has found that state-run road entities are holding governments “captive” with demands for more funding, and that governments are assuming roads are the answer to transport problems with little consideration of alternatives enjoyed by other developed parts of the world.
It found said that more than $20 billion a year in national roads funding...
24 July 2014: BRIEF: Applications are now open for the second round of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge. Any city with a population over 50,000 can apply, including regional centres.
If accepted, the city receives a range of assistance towards programs and projects which will boost the city’s ability to respond to and manage social and economic challenges and natural disasters.
Melbourne was successful in the 2013 round, however this does not preclude other Australian...
24 July 2014 — BRIEF: The Clean Energy Council has released a solar power guide for consumers that details a seven-step process to help select the ideal solar system.
The guide was launched today (Thursday) at the opening of the ATRAA solar conference and exhibition, part of Clean Energy Week.
Clean Energy Council acting chief executive Kane Thornton said the new guide would help people to understand the process of buying and installing solar systems and avoid common pitfalls.
23 July 2014 — BRIEF: The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced $1.3 million in funding for CSIRO to create a “wave energy atlas” that will allow proponents to better assess the feasibility of Australian wave power projects.
“This project builds on CSIRO’s previous work and is an important step forward in enabling more wave energy projects to come to the fore in Australia,” ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said.
“It involves a collaboration that will see data from...
22 July 2014 — BRIEF: Australia is becoming increasingly globally isolated and economically vulnerable, as countries like Korea and China move toward national emissions trading schemes, a new report warns.
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis investor briefing note details the implications for Australian fossil fuel investment taking into account regulatory, market, technological and reputational risks resulting from the ongoing transformation of global energy markets.
21 July 2014 — BRIEF: An independent engineering inspection scheme to estimate the resilience of strata-title properties to cyclones has been developed by James Cook University’s Cyclone Testing Station.
Commissioned by the Insurance Council of Australia, the scheme assesses building vulnerability and identifies options for remediation to minimise potential structural damage, rainwater ingress storm surge damage.
ICA chief executive Rob Whelan said the benefits of the inspections would extend...
14 July 2014 –BRIEF: According to Edie, 2018 host nation for the World Cup, Russia, is planning to go green with its preparations.
“Six out of the 10 World Cup stadiums that are being developed for Russia 2018 will be assessed under BREEAM standards in a bid to drive sustainable construction ahead of the tournament,” the report says.
Jones Lang Lasalle’s associate director Ksenia Agapova, said this would “raise the bar” of sustainable design and construction in Russia.
16 July 2014 — BRIEF: BP this month lost a legal fight to trademark a shade of the colour green in Australia. TimeBase reports the multinational petroleum giant first attempted to obtain exclusive rights to the colour as a corporate identifier back in 1991, an attempt that was blocked by Woolworths, which also wears green as its corporate badge.
In 2005, BP succeeded, basing their argument on a survey carried out at a shopping centre by a Monash University researcher, which showed that 47 per cent...
16 July 2014 — BRIEF: The UK-Based Bee Coalition is calling for a global ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, citing the results of a Worldwide Integrated Assessment that reviewed 800 studies covering birds, animals, soil and water, as well as bees. The study showed that neonicotinoids pose a major threat to a wide range of invertebrate species in soil, vegetation, aquatic and marine habitats.
The Worldwide Integrated Assessment was produced by an independent Task Force on Systemic Pesticides and is...
10 July 2014 — BRIEF: Technology, policies or plans that aim to reduce carbon emissions should also take factors such as water use into account, especially in dry countries like Australia, according to research out of Monash University.
A more integrated approach might make some options considerably more attractive than others, Dr Philip Wallis of Monash University in Australia and colleagues found, in an article published in Climatic Change.
The researchers considered Australia to show how water...
10 July 2014 — BRIEF: A city’s local background climate may have a greater role than previously thought in variations in the urban heat island effect — a phenomenon that causes many cities to be warmer than their rural surroundings.
The UHI effect has long been thought to be controlled by the lower rates of evaporative cooling in urban areas, which should tend to increase temperatures, but in a report published in Nature this week, Xuhui Lee and colleagues show that UHI variations can instead...
8 July 2014 — BRIEF: Three major property industry bodies have signed on as Platinum Corporate Partners of Livable Housing Australia.
The Australian Institute of Architects, Property Council of Australia and Master Builders Australia have thrown their weight behind LHA, reinforcing their commitment to the Livable Housing design guidelines and the national livability certification program championed by LHA.
LHA, established in 2011, is working with industry, the consumer sector and governments to...
8 July 2014 — BRIEF: The New South Wales Government is still not giving any clear indication of when the results of the review of BASIX will be announced.
A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment told The Fifth Estate the department was currently considering the issues raised in feedback from the public and industry stakeholders, as part of finalising the policy.
“In total 83 submissions were received, with 80 per cent of them in support of the policy. The top issues raised...
8 July 2014 — BRIEF: Gains in the housing sector helped lift the national construction sector into growth territory for the first time this year, according to the latest Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Australian Performance of Construction Index.
The seasonally adjusted index lifted 5.1 points to 51.8 in June (readings above 50 indicate expansion).
In addition to house building growth – up 2.2 points to 56.6 – engineering construction jumped 16.3 points to 51.1 with...
8 July 2014 — BRIEF: Carbon Trade Exchange has launched Australia’s first fully electronic renewable energy certificate market – TRECs.
Due to the government’s pre-election claim to support the Renewable Energy Target, CTX began developing an online trading platform “to provide the market with a secure, transparent and liquid web-based trading environment to spot trade RECs”, according to a company media release.
Due to a hostile political environment the launch was deferred until the...
3 July 2014 — BRIEF: Alinta Energy has narrowed its pre-feasibility work for a Port Augusta solar thermal plant to a standalone 50-megawatt tower, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency today (Thursday) announced.
“Alinta commissioned Parsons Brinkerhoff earlier this year to examine the available solar thermal technologies and potential plant locations,” ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said.
“Parsons Brinckerhoff found that a 50MW solar thermal plant near Port Augusta’s existing...
2 July 2014 — BRIEF: The Clean Energy Regulator has issued the first Australian carbon credit units for a reforestation project to Greenfleet, a not-for-profit carbon offsetting organisation.
According to Greenfleet chief executive Wayne Wescott, the move is a significant sustainability milestone for Australia.
“This is the first reforestation project to be issued carbon credits that can be on-sold to people and businesses wishing to offset their own emissions,” Mr Westcott said.
1 July 2014 — BRIEF: Not-for-profits with innovative ideas for technology-driven solutions to pressing issues can apply for a share of $2 million in grant funding fro Google’s Impact Challenge Australia.
Four proposals will be chosen and awarded a grant and an embedded Google team for mentoring and technical support plus $500,000 to bring a project from the drawing board to reality.
Previous Impact Challenges around the world have funded innovations including smart cameras for wildlife conservation,...
30 June 2014 — BRIEF: The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced $11 million in funding to support the next stage of Carnegie Wave Energy’s energy production and desalination technology.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the funding would help Carnegie progress towards commercialisation of its groundbreaking CETO technology.
“The $46 million CETO 6 project represents the next generation of Carnegie’s landmark wave technology and is expected to deliver energy at approximately half...
25 June 2014 — BRIEF: Commercial office tenant energy efficiency program CitySwitch has partnered with graduating environment students from RMIT to deliver resource assessments for participating signatories in Melbourne.
CitySwitch will pair a group of three to four students with a business to facilitate a scoping meeting to determine the areas of interest for the resource assessment, which could cover energy, waste, procurement, staff attitude and knowledge, transport or other resource use.
25 June 2014 — BRIEF: Forest Corporation NSW will pay $8.55 million to Boral to buy back 50,000 cubic metres of hardwood timber allocations annually for the next nine years.
“This buyback will allow the continued maturing of North Coast forests and has been agreed in negotiations between the Forestry Corporation of NSW and its largest hardwood customer on the North Coast, Boral,” Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said.
“Our North Coast forests are certified sustainable, but...
24 June 2014 — BRIEF: A report on supply chain management has found that the property sector is one of the top performers, thanks to green building rating systems such as Green Star and LEED.
The Sustainability and Supply Chain Divide: Insights into the gaps, challenges and opportunities for Australian companies was released in June by Sustainability at Work, with support from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
The report said that supply chain management was one of the biggest obstacles...
24 June 2014 — Founder of the US and World Green Building Councils David Gottfried has released his memoir of the 20-year growth trajectory of the green building movement.
Explosion Green charts the story of how a global organisation with a presence in around 170 countries grew from a three-man start-up in California.
In an online video about the book, Gottfried says the Green Building Council in the US has provided sustainability credentials for approximately 170,000 projects, and trained and...