Landcom’s patterns for cooling the commons in Western Sydney

The heat is on for Western Sydney in more ways than one. Not only is the region expected to regularly hit 50 degrees in summer, it’s already done so. And yet it’s earmarked for major expansion of population. With a new report Cooling Common Spaces in Densifying Urban Environments the NSW government’s land development agency […]

Sustainable House Day will be virtual this year and better for it

What’s a sustainable house? According to Perth based architect Ben Caine from Leanhous, sustainability is a “very loose term that can be interpreted lots of different ways”.  That’s why he can see loads of benefits in Sustainable House Day on 20 September this year being a virtual event with lots of online tours and virtual […]

House hunters are rarely told the home energy rating – little wonder the average is as low as 1.8 stars

Most Australian homes have been built to notoriously poor standards. The energy performance of existing homes in Victoria, for instance, averages 1.8 stars – 6 stars is mandatory for newly built homes under the 10-star Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NaTHERS). Decision-makers typically fail to appreciate the importance of a low star rating, even though […]

Our states are crying poor. They wouldn’t if they charged for rezoning like the ACT

Throughout Australia, when land is rezoned from industrial to high-rise residential, a charge is levied to help fund the required infrastructure. In NSW it is called an infrastructure contribution. The NSW government is reviewing it in order to cut “red tape” and “fix the uncertainty”. They are words that ought to set off alarm bells. […]

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.

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.

Want a marriage made in heaven? Try Passive House+

Plans for one of the largest “passive house” social housing estates in Europe have been approved in Ireland. But the designers could still learn a thing or two about the latest thinking in sustainable social housing from Germany. A total of 597 homes will be built on a nine hectare site by scenic Shanganagh Castle, […]

Rainwater tanks for a greener future

Rainwater harvesting solutions involves a minimal upfront cost to achieve sustainability upgrades that will pay significant dividends for homeowners as the climate changes.

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 […]

Yes, Mr Cummings, energy efficiency is boring – if you have a one inch deep mind

The evil gnome who has taken up permanent residence on the shoulder of British prime minister Boris Johnson and whispers dark instructions into his ears, last week pronounced energy efficiency as “boring“. His name is demonic comings. I’m sorry, that was a mistaken auto-correction by my dictation software; it should have read Dominic Cummings, who […]

Exciting news for affordable housing in our most expensive cities

There’s good news for affordable accommodation in Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, it’s exciting if you consider the co-living, co-operative and shared equity housing that Landcom in Sydney has in mind, and the twin key apartments in Melbourne, thanks to a lovely collaboration. Landcom boss John Brogden flagged the possibilities for radically different affordable housing […]

The Alexandria apartments for Defence made from half a million recycled bricks

Like many building materials, making bricks releases greenhouse gases and chews up limited natural resources (in this instance, clay). This is what makes Australia’s largest recycled brick building – a claim validated by the brick supplier – something quite special. Arkadia is a recently completed multi-residential, 152 dwelling building in Alexandria, a growing inner-city suburb […]

Here’s how a prefab Passive House outperforms even eco houses in the UK

A new factory-fabricated home has scored twice the Passivhaus Standard on airtightness and achieved an EU Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) score of 103 out of 100, using the UK Government’s Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for energy efficiency. Developer Etopia uses a special building method coupled with green technology that results in homes that can produce […]

Investing in needs-based housing? How about getting the sustainability right?

The Victorian government has announced one of the largest investment in social and needs-based housing since the Global Financial Crisis. It’s important that providers integrate sustainability benchmarking across their operations and asset portfolios to align their organisations with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This will place providers in the best position to ensure upgrades […]

Improving consumer confidence in apartments rests on making information about defects available to all

Finding relevant information about potential defects of an apartment building is hard for a team of dedicated researchers, let alone for consumers. The new industry-based Multi-Party Risk Rating Tool is a start but will it be enough? We recently wrote an article, lack of information on apartment defects leaves whole market on shaky footings, outlining […]

Cooking with gas: bad for the planet, and bad for your health

Australia’s federal government looks like it’s digging its heels in on gas but be warned, cooking with it is bad for your health. And while rangehoods can help, not all of them were created equal. In fact, the best ones are so loud people don’t turn them on.

How healthy homes can build immunity

Home wellness company Delos says people are starting to recognise the role a healthy home plays in promoting strong immunity that has the best chance of fighting infections such as the coronavirus. If you can steer clear of the bogus claims about vitamins and specialist diets that promise to turbocharge your immunity, there really are […]

Nobody wins from rent moratoriums, not even landlords

Jay is an international student at the Canberra University of Technology. When she and her housemate both lost their jobs in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, their landlord reacted in the worst possible way: he refused to reduce the rent, instead increasing it by $15 per week.  Jay and millions of renters like her […]

Aged care facilities have been at the centre of the Covid crisis. Here’s how their design can change to lessen risk.

With the elderly community most at risk, seniors’ housing for retirement living and aged care is at the coalface of change to manage COVID-19 and any future infectious diseases. For the past few months, the focus of seniors’ living providers, especially those offering residential aged care, has been literally on staying alive and protecting their […]

Energy retrofits in community housing are tough, but there is a way  

There are many barriers to energy retrofits in the community housing sector – which needs them most – but here’s a thought: what about combining government funding with private impact-linked private capital to kickstart the economy post-Covid at the same time?

Green Star Homes changing the market – at last

RESIDENTIAL SPECIAL REPORT:  The residential market has been slow to move the needle on sustainability, particularly on energy performance. Now things are changing. There’s a long list of reasons why the home builder market has been slow to move on sustainability, including how it’s marketed to consumers. However, there’s promising signs that we’re on the […]

Will streamlining planning make a difference to housing outcomes?

There has been a lot of talk by developer lobby groups about the need to unclog the planning system to assist economic recovery post COVID 19. And the NSW government is putting out media releases saying that rapid approvals are injecting billions of dollars into the state’s economy. Thinking that approvals are going to lead […]

Volume builders locked in and ready for to pilot Green Star for homes

Metricon, Rawson Homes and Stockland are among the home builders signed up to pilot the Green Building Council of Australia’s new Green Star rating tool for homes, currently out for consultation. Residential has long trailed other asset classes on sustainability, which is why homes are the “the next logical step” for the Green Star treatment. […]