What do we want? Refined low density middle class suburbs! When do we want it? NOW

The violence of ABC listeners, Rod Leaver and Green Building Week, Low Carbon calls for interests and will Turnbull cross the floor?

15 September 2011 – Interesting comments came from Janne Ryan this morning (Thursday) speaking to a class of young architecture students at UTS in Sydney.

Ryan, an “ideas curator” and member of the ABC Radio’s By Design team, as well as executive producer of TEDxSydney, said that each time the By Design program tackled urban density the radio station is inundated with hostile letters that contain a level of “violence” not seen with any other issue, said Ryan, not even pedophilia.

Now this is an ABC audience with a whopping 200,000 listeners or more for each program. The inference is these are intelligent people engaged in the big public policy debates and who probably call themselves “greenies.”

So does Ryan get a sense of what would move these citizens to realise that the result of their opposition to density is more urban sprawl? (The Fifth Estate was one of three guest lecturers invited to the session.)

“No,” is the flat answer from Ryan, clearly at a loss.

Poor students. Their task is how to develop media skills – written, visual, social and speaking to communicate exactly the rational argument for greater density. No qualms at this university. No pandering the supposed “choice” that developers constantly brandish about to defend the indefensible lack of real choice (“will that be a house and land package or a house and land package?”).

Janne Ryan at the UTS lecture

Ryan, who also writes on design for The Australian’s Wish magazine, said at some level the fear and loathing of density is understandable; Australians have plenty of shoddy apartment developments to point to. Nothing like the atmosphere of well activated streets in Paris or New York.

On not such a minor note, the job of the students might be a little easier now that Aaron Gadiel, that tireless crusader for urban developers (with the focus on greenfields development) has finally left as chief executive officer of the Urban Taskforce and taken a plum job at Gadens. (See our jobs section.)

The Urban Taskforce never saw such passion. Gadiel sallied forth at every opportunity to battle for more land development opportunities, lower development levies and deregulated zoning because it would bring the price of land down. This last item is not a joke. The Fifth Estate reckons he was a major reason that the Productivity Commission decided to seriously question zoning covenants in its planning inquiry.

Environmental upgrade agreements
We’ve heard on the grapevine that Sydney city council has a working draft of how the environmental upgrade agreements might look. (We are still awaiting our leaked copy of these…hmmm?)

It’s a good time, however, for Low Carbon Australia to remind the Australian property industry that there is money available to spruce up the old digs and turn brown energy guzzlers into some “green gold”.

See our recent article on the Napier & Blakeley play for this market.

According to Low Carbon Australia projects could include buildings in the office and retail sectors, distribution and warehousing, education, health, manufacturing, leisure, community sectors and local government.

Finance might be in the form of loans, equipment leases and capital for equipment which will upgrade the efficiency of their operations or buildings.

For details see this link

World Green Building Week
It was great to see the tweet of Rod Leaver’s article  in The Business Times this week on the eve of World Green Building Week which starts Monday, and is estimated to draw 35,000 companies world wide into various activities associated with the nearly 90 World GBCs now operating.

Leaver, Lend Lease Asia chief, and long time supporter of green buildings says, “Going green is not some lofty ideal.”

“A sustainable built environment is all about using our available resources more efficiently which, in turn, lowers costs in the long term.”
The International Energy Agency estimates that existing buildings are responsible for nearly half of the world’s total primary energy consumption and about a quarter of its carbon dioxide emissions, he points out.

Other findings indicate that buildings use about a third of the world’s resources, about a tenth of the world’s water, and are responsible for 40 per cent of solid waste generation.

In Singapore, they get it. In 2007, the total number of Green Mark buildings 34; today it’s 750, Leaver reports.

Abbott a go-going?
Rob Burgess in Climate Spectator on Thursday sounded a death knell for Tony Abbott, now that the Clean Energy Futures package had entered Parliament.

“While he stands with shield and sword ready in that sandy arena, Malcolm Turnbull sits high in the Emperor’s box eating grapes and wondering, ‘shall I speak or shan’t I?’,” Burgess mocked.

“His late scratching from the parliamentary debate yesterday was a delay in any open hostility against the man who deposed him, but it does not rule it out,” the article continued.

“Turnbull will, at some point, stretch out one arm, his thumb hovering in a horizontal position, before surveying the chanting crowd and turning said appendage up or down. Whether or not he speaks on the carbon package, he is not a man to be silenced outside the chamber. A Turnbull verdict could come at any time.”

The article goes on to speculate that Turnbull might cross the floor if one the independents falters and the bill looks in danger of collapse.

What an irony that would be.

The Fifth Estate put the proposition of a Turnbull relaunch, the day he was sacked. Turnbull has made his millions; he has an eye on history now. We made no such predictions for former prime minister Kevin Rudd to resume leadership, as Turnbull did at a Property Council lunch recently.

Rudd had his chance to lead his party, the country and the world into a better future and he blew it.

A growing chorus of people are saying that indeed Australia (a bit like Rudd in those days) does not realise how well regarded it is internationally and the implicit power to shape policy that this confers. It is seen as independent, strong, especially economically, and therefore capable of taking action on climate climate change and other issues that can be more ambitious than other countries hamstrung by a Greek chorus of growing pain and trouble.

Let’s shine a light. Not Green and Gold and but Green Gold

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We can’t wait for the future