On sad business, clean business, and funny business

22 March 2012 – Lynne Blundell completes her coverage of Green Cities 2012 in this issue and as usual it’s a great read. We had some excellent feedback on her coverage of clean air issues, related to schools and children– and big hits on the general coverage of the conference and on our Tweet Sheet.

In this article Blundell covers resilience in communities: what happens when disaster strikes. At Christchurch people were still putting their rubbish out for collection after the earthquake, without realising a basic item of infrastructure, roads, was no longer available.

Industrial on the move
There’s still one great story we want to tell about Green Cities 2012 and it’s based on the session The Fifth Estate moderated at the conference, on industrial property.

Now this has been the invisible sector, the laggard. Let’s be blunt: industrial property is the place where we put the dirty parts of our economy we’d rather not look at, usually in locations out of general view, and where we put the landfill we’re buying from China, while it’s waiting to pass through our houses on the way to the tip.

But there is a not-so-secret society that loves the big sheds. And it seems that industrial property is about to get its share of green attention. Making it to Green Cities for the first time is a good step and its inclusion attracted some investors all the way from Perth to hear what ideas were in the wings.

The three participants on the panel, Andrew Whiteside from Dexus, James Vesper from Goodman and Paolo Bevilaqua from Australand had a story of a sector in transition.. Only three buildings have a Green Star rating so far but there is bunch more in the wings and some good news is on the way from these three giants of the property world represented on the panel.

One thing that is getting people excited is that realisation that the federal government’s $1 billion Clean Energy Future fund targeted at manufacturers may also be applicable to industrial landlords if the nexus between the activity and real estate is strong enough. In other words if the process is a fundamental part of the building.

We’ll bring you a more thorough report on all those issues soon.

Cleaning up
Speaking of carbon intensive industries, Alan Pears, one of Australia’s leading experts on energy says manufacturing is using less energy than it used to, because of the changing nature of manufacturing activities and because of lower energy use all round. He points to the commercial and residential sector as key drivers of change. Not just because of better building design but because of more conscious behaviour patterns and improvements in design of appliances to be more energy efficient.

As adjunct professor at RMIT, and as a private consultant, Pears packs the biggest punch of all energy commentators. He combines the practical reality of the marketplace with sound logic and the rigour of academic evidence and he is a great communicator.

His output is  prodigious.  Just last week, he sent us copies of the submissions he made to three government inquiries:

  • The Draft Energy White Paper
  • Victoria’s Feed-in Tariff Inquiry
  • The National Energy Savings Initiative Issues Paper

We’ve managed to cover some of  his general media comments on the long term trends in energy consumption, and we will try to bring you some insight into the submissions, but quite frankly we’re struggling to keep up with this man.

It’s not wonder he won the Energy All-Star awards, initiated by the Australian Alliance to Save Energy,

Other winners in these awards were Muriel Watt and Dr David Crossley.
See our story on why they won.

Funny  business
This week came the hilarious mining billionaire Clive Palmer, taking the spotlight yet again, this time with claims that the Greenpeace plan to get rid of coal was a CIA plot.

We just had to give this man our first Laughing Horse award for 2012.

This fifth richest person in Australia has finally found a purpose for his wealth and all the free time he clearly has on his hands. He’s is going to keep us so entertained we won’t notice what he gets up to down the rabbit hole.