Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Research refers to reports by organisations or research by academic institutions relating to urban sustainability issues within Melbourne. If you have research that relates to urban sustainability issues and could benefit people and organisations in Melbourne, please post this information on Sustainable Melbourne. To do so visit the “How to use this site” page and follow the prompts.

Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) Power and Dispatchable Storage

Posted in Events, Research by Mark Ogge on November 7th, 2012

12 November , 2012
6:30 pmto8:00 pm

Dr Keith Lovegrove

Beyond Zero Emissions Discussion Group guest:

Dr Keith Lovegrove Senior Consultant – Solar Thermal at IT Power.

Dr Keith Lovegrove is a world leading expert in Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) technology and has more than 20 years experience in leading solar thermal research – including 15 years teaching at the Australian National University (ANU) as head of the Solar Thermal Group.

Keith led the design and construction of the ANU Big Dish, the  largest concentrating solar dish in the world (at 500m2). He is a key contributor to the IEA Solar PACES program, which is an international cooperative network developing CST and chemical energy systems. Keith will present a CST and storage technology update from the latest Solar PACES conference (that he attended in September 2012), as well as research carried out on the potential of CSP in India.

Date/Time: 6:30- 8pm Monday 12 November 2012

Entry: gold coin donation

Fritz Loewe Theatre (entry via level 2)
McCoy Building
University of Melbourne
Cnr Elgin & Swanston Streets, Carlton

This event will also be streamed live online. Click here to view it.

For more information about our guest visit the discussion group page on the BZE website.

Edible Weeds in Australia: Guidebook

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on November 2nd, 2012

The Weed Forager’s Handbook: A Guide to Edible and Medicinal Weeds in Australia

Step into the world of our least-admired botanical companions, peel back the layers of prejudice, and discover the finer side of the plants we call weeds. An astonishing number are either edible or medicinal, and have deep and sometimes bizarre connections to human history.

  • But how do you distinguish a tasty sandwich-filler from its dangerous look-alike?
  • Which of these garden familiars is the most nutritious vegetable ever tested by the US Dept of Agriculture?
  • How do you cook with delicious nettles without fear of being stung?

This book reveals all this and more, and will forever change your concept of where to go looking for lunch.

Authors: Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland (foreword by Costa Georgiadis)


Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037

Posted in Research, Visions by Jessica Bird on October 23rd, 2012

Image by D. Armellin

A local resilience-building project about climate extremes.

Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 is part of a larger research project Transforming Institutions for Climate Extremes. This project is led by Che Biggs at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) at the University of Melbourne. It aims to understand how communities and institutions can prepare and become more resilient to disruptive climate conditions. Anglesea was chosen as an ideal case-study site because it faces multiple climate hazards such as fire, drought and sea level rise but it also has a creative community and a strong local identity.

What is the Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 blog about?

The images and articles you see on the Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 blog are glimpses of possible futures. They depict strategies and ideas about how Anglesea could become more resilient to the more extreme possible impacts of climate change. The ideas represented have been developed from a workshop involving Anglesea community members. In the workshop people were asked to propose adaptation strategies in response to a series of challenging future scenarios that describe Anglesea in the year 2037. These scenarios were built from an assessment of climate model projections, historical records from along the Great Ocean Road and interviews with Anglesea residents. The small number of glimpses you see were combined and synthesised from more than 100 ideas developed in the workshop. Treat them as a window into a range of possible futures that might exist. We encourage you to comment on what is good or not good about the way they respond to challenges from climate change.

Why this project? When managing disaster risk, government and private sector organisations often rely heavily on ‘probability’ or ‘expert’ assessments of the likely type, extent and frequency of negative impacts. This can come unstuck when disasters occur outside what has been predicted and planned for. Transforming Institutions for Climate Extremes is a response to this problem. It responds to the call for new methods to improve community resilience and help communities improve disaster planning. It seeks to explore how prepared our communities, our decision-makers and decision-making processes are for the challenges of ‘new’ climate conditions. It will consider what institutional changes are needed to meet those challenges whilst ensuring community ownership.

Climate change in Anglesea? Anglesea lies in an area of southern Australia that will be affected by climate change in many ways. Climate models project that the most likely direct impacts will include changes to rainfall (drier but with more intense rainfall events), changes in temperature (warmer with more heatwaves), increasing acidity of oceans and rising sea levels. In-turn, these impacts are expected to affect a whole range of factors including increases in coastal erosion and days of extreme fire danger to increased risk of heat-stroke and changes to when plants flower and birds migrate. Climate Change is the effect of heat from the sun being trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by gases produced by human activity. While some of these gases (like carbon dioxide) are found naturally in the atmosphere, as we increase their concentration above natural levels, they trap more heat from the sun – a bit like an insulation blanket.

You can view the glimpses of a resilient Anglesea in 2037 and comment at You can also like the Facebook page to be kept up to date with the project.

Nuclear sites in Australia: AustraliaMap

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on October 12th, 2012

Source: Bindarri is an educational resource with information, photos and videos about more than 50 of Australia’s nuclear sites including uranium mines, Lucas Heights, proposed reactor and dump sites, and British nuclear test sites.

Click here for a discussion on recurring issues and problems – children playing in contaminated areas, unresolved contamination issues, racism, deceit, secrecy, whistleblowers, etc.

Livable Housing Guidelines: Extending the usefulness of a home

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on October 2nd, 2012

Source: The Fifth Estate

From Silver standard aim for livable housing:

Livable Housing Australia is hoping industry will take up its silver performance rating – the lowest of three ratings – in a bid to make all new housing suitable for aged and disabled people.

Livable Housing Australia’s program was launched this week.

Executive director Amelia Starr said the program focused on “a mainstream adoption” and was therefore working on the “silver” rating as the most easily achievable.[…] Ms Starr said current building saw houses for “the here and now, the fit and well” but “life wasn’t like that, it’s fluid”.  “We work on sustainability in the home, with lighting and heating, but we don’t look at sustaining ‘us’ in the home. Livability is something we should all be aspiring to.”  Ms Starr said while the program was aimed at making homes suitable for aged and disabled people it would also provide for parents. […]“The reality is that at any one time there could be four generations in the one house.”

LHA chair, Peter Verwer, who is also chief executive officer of the Property Council of Australia, said the organisation’s goal was for the housing industry to step up to a new design standard, the Livable Housing Design Quality Mark, to ensure all new houses were safer, more comfortable and easier to get around by 2020. “Livable Housing Australia champions the adoption of seven critical ‘livable’ design features that help make homes easier to access, navigate and live in, as well more cost-effective to adapt when life’s circumstances change,” Mr Verwer said. “Livable homes work for pregnant mums, young families with kids, as well and those with disability and Australians with sporting or traumatic injuries.

“‘Livability also caters for the needs of an ageing society by promoting homes better suited to seniors. Livable homes will also reduce stress on Australia’s 2.6 million-strong army of unpaid carers.”

Living housing standards will have three performance ratings – silver, gold and platinum. Mr Verwer said the features contained in the guidelines were inexpensive to incorporate into new-build dwellings and would deliver huge dividends as well as peace of mind to future generations of Australians. “It makes sense to commit to livability features when a home is first designed and built rather than wait for an unplanned need to arise,” he said.  “Our goal is to persuade the market to incorporate silver level livability features in all homes by 2020.”


The seven core design features elements in the silver level are:

  1. A safe continuous and step free path of travel from the street entrance and/or parking area to a dwelling entrance that is level
  2. At least one level (step-free) entrance into the dwelling
  3. Internal doors and corridors that facilitate comfortable and unimpeded movement between spaces
  4. A toilet on the ground (or entry) level that provides easy access
  5. A bathroom that contains a hobless (step-free) shower recess6
  6. Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath to support the safe installation of grabrails at a later date
  7. A continuous handrail on one side of any stairway where there is a rise of more than one metre
See the the Living Design Guide here and read the full article from the Fifth Estate here.

Free Guide to Saving Energy and Money

Posted in Models, Research by sashashtargot on September 17th, 2012

From curtains to LCD monitors, taking showers to making toast, the Alternative Technology Association’s new guide examines all the ways to save money and improve energy efficiency around the home.

The Guide to reducing your energy use and saving money is available now as a PDF and is completely free.

This booklet is designed to help low-income households reduce their home’s energy use without the need for big spending on appliances or home renovations. Many actions can be done at zero or low cost, or through small changes in behaviour.

To make it easier, we have tips for each room of the house. These range from the simplest tweaks, to improvements that may require permission from your landlord if you are in a rental property.

The guide was developed by the Alternative Technology Association and the Victorian Council of Social Service, with support from the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

Click here to download.

To order multiple copies email

Melbourne’s Transition to a Water Sensitive City: Recommendations for Strategic Action

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on September 3rd, 2012

Source: Clearwater

The report Melbourne’s Transition to a Water Sensitive City: Recommendations for Strategic Action provides an interpretation of the outcomes of the Melbourne’s Transition to a Water Sensitive City project, led by Monash Water for Liveability. The project involved a series of four workshops in the Yarra Valley region of Melbourne and a series of five workshops in the South East region of Melbourne.

The workshop participants were from a range of organisations that have a role in the planning, design, management and use of Melbourne’s water system. This report presents the authors’ interpretation and synthesis of outcomes from the two workshops series and translates them to provide recommendations for coordinated strategic action across key stakeholder groups to enable transformative change in Melbourne’s water system.

From the report:

50-Year Vision of Melbourne as a Water Sensitive City

Developing a shared long-term vision of a desired future is an important step in recognising that everyone is connected through shared desires and concerns. Workshop participants were asked to identify the principles that will guide how we plan, invest, design, manage, regulate, monitor and evaluate our actions in this desired future. Building on the Living Melbourne, Living Victoria Roadmap principles (Living Victoria Ministerial Advisory Council, 2011), the working groups of the participants developed a 50-year vision of Melbourne as a Water Sensitive City, underpinned by four overlapping themes: Social and Ecological Health, Connected Communities, Shared Prosperity and Our Water System.

>>Visit the Clearwater site to download the full report.

Plug-in Hybrid Retrofit Kits for Any Car: Research project

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 27th, 2012

Source: The Age

Photos by Andy Heidt for MTSU

From “Do-it-yourself hybrid” by Barry Park:

A cheap bolt-on kit will one day be able to turn most ordinary cars into fuel-sipping plug-in hybrids, US researchers say.

Engineering technology students at the Middle Tennessee State University have fitted a 20-year-old Honda Accord wagon with a retrofit plug-in hybrid system that powers the front wheels using the conventional petrol engine, and a pair of electric hub motors hidden inside the rear wheels.

Users are then able to plug the hybrid car into an ordinary power point to charge up a set of lithium-ion batteries mounted in the wagon’s load space.

The batteries in turn feed electricity into the hub motors to provide low-speed power that is able to help the conventional petrol engine accelerate – the most fuel-hungry part of driving.

The bolt-on kit was developed in recognition of the fact that many drivers in the US only travelled about 70 kilometres a day at speeds below about 70km/h.


Read the full article by Barry Park on the Age or read more about the project on Middle Tennessee State University’s website.

Cargo Bike Tests by Ride On Magazine

Posted in Models, Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 18th, 2012

Source: Ride On Magazine

Photo by Richard Masoner/Cyclelicious via flickr CC

From “Ditch the car” by Simon Vincett and Jon Miller:

A cargo bike can do most of the errands for which people use a car, but with greater health benefits, less cost and reduced environmental impact. Simon Vincett and Jon Miller tested 14 options available in Australia.

The school run, grocery shopping, weekend sports, BBQ in the park: check, check, check, check – a cargo bike has them all covered. That big box or those capacious panniers can take a huge load – it’s a good thing there are also some strong, low-down gears to get you underway.

The development of these bikes comes to us from those most transport-advanced countries of Denmark and the Netherlands, where for decades families have zipped about and proprietors have conducted their businesses using cargo bikes. Most models on test here come with seats and harnesses for kids and boxes that can be configured for many different commercial purposes. Luggage racks, handbrakes, lights and locks are usually included – not to mention mudguards and chainguards – because these bikes are intended to provide the amenity of a car.

We’re using a general term of ‘cargo bike’ but there are really three main types:

  • Box trike: two wheels in front either side of a big box
  • Box bike: a box behind the front wheel and in front of the rider
  • Long bike: an extended rear rack carries the load behind the rider.
Read the rest of the article by Simon Vincett and Jon Miller to find out more about the different bikes and the way they handle.

Community Food Map: City of Yarra

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 9th, 2012

Thinking of starting a food project in Yarra? This directory and guide to community food projects has been developed in order to assist individuals and groups who may be already working on community food projects or who are thinking about getting something started. Although not an exhaustive map and directory of the Yarra Community Food System, this directory contains many of the food projects working across the municipality. The Yarra Community Food Systems Map is an ongoing development and can be accessed via this link.