Oh my, what a way to end the year. A beautiful Christmas present to our readers and the rest of Australia.

In an exclusive we’ve been waiting several weeks to bring you, we’ve finally managed to convince the developers, architects and advisers of a fabulous new mixed-use project that will inspire and excite this industry to let the cat (or owl) out of the bag.

It’s a high-rise project on Sydney’s Lower North Shore that will be off grid. Powered by human waste.

It is game changing and pretty much the holy grail of sustainability, seen by many as still too far away, in dream land.

Well, it’s time to wake up.

The project in Sydney known as the Gateway site is being designed by architect Ken McBryde’s new Sydney Architecture Studio, with consulting by the inspirational Ross Harding of Finding Infinity, who is also creator of the Off the Grid festival in Melbourne on Friday.

McBryde says the plans for between 50-80,00 square metres of gross floor area, possibly over two 40-storey towers, have not yet been approved but from what we have seen they will likely knock the industry’s socks off.

Here is just one more detail. To reduce the wind load the design will borrow from nature – owls in particular.

“An owl can descend on its prey without being heard and that stealth is the result of a very particular structure of the tips of the feathers and so we understand that shedding the eddies that normally make noise and scare the prey is also a way of shedding wind load on a building,” McBryde says.

Thanks for the Christmas gift Ken, and thanks to Ross Harding and last but certainly not least the developer Eastern Property Alliance, about whom we still don’t know much (but are trying hard to to find out!).

So property industry, we heard at our Visit Tomorrowland summit that it’s all about finding a way to do zero carbon buildings, but that maybe that’s still a way off.

Not any more.

Time for the most creative, imaginative and audacious leaders in the built environment to rise to the occasion and see where 2018 can take us.

The news comes just a week after we brought you the story of Nightingale Village to show that a highly sustainable apartment concept can be scaled up to an entire street, at village scale, with huge benefits socially, environmentally and economically. Think affordable housing percentages in the “double digits” – “a number to be proud of”.

As lead Nightingale architect Jeremy McLeod said, “now anything is possible.”

Here here!

Overall 2017 has been a good year for the sustainability industry realising it just has to get on with things and forget about anything other than obstruction from Canberra.

As AIRAH’s Phil Wilkinson said in our round up of sentiment for the coming year, no one expects much of anything from the Feds and most people realise that movement on the cheapest way to cut emissions, through the built environment, has to come from a bottom-up approach.

At TFE that’s a message that’s clear and we are as always supremely confident. As we’ve said before it’s hard not to be because we keep getting all the good news. Above is a couple of cases in point.

Internally we continue to grow. incrementally, organically. Our highlights were our events and ebooks.

Early in the year we held our Flash Forum on Affordable Housing, which we suddenly decided was critical to flesh out an agenda ahead of the federal budget.

Thankfully the social and affordable housing issue finally seems to be taken seriously and placed on the agenda for government and industry alike, but it’s still early stages with so much more to do.

We need to deal with long-term rentals, reasonable rentals and rights for tenants as well, so that they too can share in the growing sustainability and renewable energy revolution that is increasingly growing through the residential sector. Certainly if we and so many others can help it.

Other big wins included the hugely successful Visit Tomorrowland event and ebook and the Healthy Offices ebook that has continued to rate its socks off ever since we published.

Next year will be exciting for us as we launch The Green List, a site dedicated to helping readers with user-friendly information on where to source the right products and services.  We’ll also continue our program of events that seem to generate so much interest and great feedback. Especially for the opportunity they provide for the industry to voice its concerns and ideas of where the trajectories should be.

The coming year will be hugely important for the entire industry as it continues to build strength and confidence.

We know how to fight the bushfires (let’s hope we’re all safe on that score this summer). Now it’s time to dream again, to reach for outperformance, with confidence, imagination and above all courage. That’s the winning formula if you want to achieve the three pillars of sustainability – social, environmental and economic.

Best wishes to all. Have a great break and see you back here on the week of 22 January 2018.