Why the MLC Building in North Sydney should be saved

Beyond concern for preserving such rich heritage, the proposed demolition of the MLC Building in North Sydney poses deep environmental concerns. History is the story of who we are. A wise society will take lessons from that history – both good and bad – and critically engage with the present to proactively shape a better future. We […]

The time has come for regulations that drive net zero homes

It’s time that the National Construction Code and, in NSW, BASIX, be updated to drive the trajectory to net zero energy homes. An opportunity has arisen to make major improvements in the energy efficiency and renewable energy generation of new buildings, following recent consultations and current analysis for the next update of the National Construction […]

Tim Williams: we need to fight for the cities

Many things are currently as clear as mud. Is it safe to be old now and leave one’s house or not? Should my child’s teacher be compelled to return to school to do their job? Is this Covid thing the worst thing since a rat got off a boat in London and spread the Black […]

Cheaper forms of housing in more expensive suburbs? That’s an Orwellian “doublethink”

There’s a draft NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (draft SEPP) for housing diversity out for discussion and it’s sparked the interest of the property developer lobby group Urban Taskforce. The Fifth Estate welcomes thoughts and contributions from other readers on this topic. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, […]

Nikola Tesla dreamed of free electricity; what happened?

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if electricity was free? Tesla is the well-known trademark of entrepreneur extraordinaire Elon Musk and his electric cars, but what about Tesla, the man? More than 100 years ago, Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) invented alternating current (AC), the polyphase alternating current system, which laid the foundation […]

How sustainable is our shiny new normal?

The answer is, not very, if it’s anything like the old one The COVID-19 pandemic is like an X-ray into all the broken parts of our economy. We know what they are and have a grand opportunity to fix them, but it will take some visionary leadership, some exceptional courage, and an ample measure of […]

Federal government sending mixed messages on gas

The federal government has been hinting that they will announce significant investment into natural gas to drive down prices and create jobs.

Carbon’s capture is not of emissions but the political status quo

Carbon capture and storage technology as an emissions reduction strategy is like slapping a band-aid over the fossil fuels industry – a last ditch attempt to keep coal-fired generation alive.

How many staff come to the office because it offers a better working environment than home? You need to know this

The Covid -19 pandemic has been nothing short of a monumental experiment. Within weeks, workplaces were forced into changes that would normally take years to implement. Reactions to the current state of work have been as varied as the experiences of the people going through it. Accounts range from horror stories to fairy tales and […]

Yes, wheelchair users can work in construction. Let’s see this as an opportunity

For an industry that involves climbing ladders and working in confined spaces, construction seems inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair. But according to construction academic from the University of South Australia, Jonathan Fritsch, this isn’t always the cas

What just happened? How we need to be investing in a responsible recovery

As we suspended business as usual during the pandemic what’s impossible to ignore is that “responsible investment strategies, that is, those that more actively factor in social and environmental risks in their decisions, outperformed the broader market during this downturn, and not for the first time. “ Initial Reaction: For investment teams responsible for the […]

To restore our cities’ rivers, we need to decolonise the law reform process

The Yarra Birrarung’s bicultural model recognises the Yarra (Birrarung) corridor in Melbourne as a “living” natural entity of bicultural character: both traditional owner and settler-Australia. But although it offers a pathway to decolonise rivers and landscapes, we need to see real shifts in cultural and power dynamics in Australia’s reconciliation processes. The Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act is a remarkable piece […]

Why natural ventilation is so hard to come by

Natural ventilation, or lack of. The modernist triumph of bare-arse glass for fully airconditioned office buildings has become the ubiquitous answer for high rise residential. Brisbane is now plagued by them. Pretty much the same for other Australian capitals with different climates. The first dilemma on observation is: is it office or residential. A slightly […]

Social housing is not a bloody-minded numbers game

The truth is, governments have the power to solve social housing shortages and homelessness. But once social housing becomes a bloody-minded numbers game of delays, deficits, and denials, it invariably degenerates into the dark art of political obfuscation.

We need 3 things to deal with coastal erosion

In these stormy days, one is reminded of Charles Dudley Warner’s quip: “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it”. This past week, much to the exasperation of Wamberal residents as they forfeit a good slice of their back yards, we remain confused about what to do and who should do […]

The glimmer of hope that is clean air

In recent months we’ve unexpectedly had to reflect on our lives, work and health, our relationships, travel, neighbourhoods and our cities.

Zombie apartments: The new face of inner-city living

A 2017 United Nations report focused on the “financialisation of housing”, with structural changes where housing is treated as a commodity, a means of accumulating wealth and often as security for financial instruments that are traded and sold on global markets.

The truth behind the housing supply nonsense

It is widely believed that Australian housing supply is constrained by planning regulations. In a new research paper out last month, I show that this belief is wrong. How can I be so confident about my assessment? First, I crawled through the annual reports of Australia’s top eight listed housing developers, who represent about 9 […]

Australia: an emissions superpower

The not-my-problem attitude to fossil fuel exports in Australia is making the country a major contributor to global climate change. Here’s why supply– not just demand – ought to be the target of climate action.

How Covid is changing the way we use energy

As response to Covid-19 becomes the “new normal”, lots of people are predicting what will happen beyond the immediate crisis. The obvious answer is “it depends”. It depends on how governments, business and households react. The reality is there will be powerful competing forces.

Here’s an idea: Let’s plant our way out of the Covid crisis

There’s never been more love and appreciation of green spaces from the community. So how can we achieve an environmental, economic and health “triple point score” by delivering more and better green space as part of the post COVID-19 recovery?