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.
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.
Source: Ride On Magazine
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.
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.
The HealthWest Food Security Network is very pleased to present the Healthy Foods for Healthy Communities – Issues of food access and availability in the west, a report canvassing key food security issues in the HealthWest catchment.
The report findings point to a number of food access and food availability issues in the west based on the findings from three data sources: food outlet mapping, the Victorian Healthy Food Basket (VHFB) surveys, and community consultations.
The main issues that affect food access in the west are:
- high cost of healthy food;
- low income; and
- lack of public or private transport.
The main issues that affect food availability in the west are:
- fruit and vegetable deserts;
- disproportion between the number of fresh fruit and vegetable outlets in comparison with take away outlets; and
- lack of culturally appropriate food.
Access to healthy and culturally appropriate food is an important social determinant of health and the Report includes key recommendations to improve access and availability of fresh food in our community.
The report will be particularly useful for local council planners, health promotion workers, managers, program developers, quality improvement officers and other workers who will be able to use the data to inform food security advocacy, policy, planning and program development.
>>Download Healthy Foods for Healthy Communities – Issues of food access and availability in the west, June 2012
From the Executive Summary:
Based on the key food security issues identified in the west that have been presented in this report, the following recommendations are proposed to improve access and availability of fresh food in the west:
- Support community initiatives promoting access to affordable healthy food (e.g. farmers markets, food swap).
- Establish partnerships with local stakeholders including community and health services, council, community groups and local business interest groups, to ensure equitable distribution of resources to vulnerable community groups.
- Advocate to local council and relevant decision makers to improve the access to nutritious foods by improving transport links to food outlets (e.g. new or altered bus routes, cycle paths, community buses).
- Advocate to local council and relevant decision makers to improve the access to nutritious foods by regulating the number and type of food outlets licensed in the west.
- Support development of urban food production in the fruit and vegetables deserts (e.g. public space food production, community gardens, and private gardens).
- Develop a means of evaluating the access to culturally appropriate foods (e.g. develop a cultural healthy food basket).
- Integrate determinants of food security (i.e. transport, employment and housing) across organisational policies and programs.
- Develop evidence based strategies addressing the determinants of food security.
In addition, a number of recommendations for the HealthWest Food Security Network were made to guide future work, as outlined in Chapter 5.
Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on June 21st, 2012
The Water Sensitive Cities 2012 Study Tour group, comprising of 18 young water professionals from across Australia, have now completed the overseas leg of their trip. The group travelled to Singapore, the UK, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands to develop their knowledge of integrated water management and to draw out relevant learnings that can aid Australia in moving towards a Water Sensitive City.
Tour participant Nicole Sexton, Senior Planner Strategy and Sustainability from Barwon Water, produced a poster presentation for the Healthy Cities Conference in Geelong on 6-8 June. The poster provides a snapshot of the sites that the group visited.
Click here to view the poster.
|24 May , 2012|
|12:00 pm||to||1:00 pm|
The Brotherhood of St Laurence, Research & Policy Centre invites you to attend these free lunchtime seminars:
Professor Jon Barnett, Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne
As knowledge and modeling of the risks of sea-level rise builds momentum so too does the need to begin processes to adapt to avoid these risks. This seminar will be an informal discussion of an ongoing ARC Linkage Project in Gippsland East which aims to understand the equity dimensions of climate change for small coastal communities. Amongst the research locales are Lakes Entrance, Port Albert, Seaspray, Manns Beach and McLoughlins Beach. We will present findings about policy-makers’ views of the ‘problem’ in this area, and emerging insights about the nature of social justice with respect to adaptation to sea-level rise.
Jon Barnett is a Professor in the Department of Resource Management and Geography at Melbourne University. He is a political geographer whose research investigates the impacts of and responses to climate change on social systems, with a focus on risks to human insecurity, hunger, violent conflict, and water stress. He has done extensive field-work in the South Pacific, China, and East Timor. Jon is convenor of the national research network on the social, economic and institutional dimensions of climate change, which is part of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, and is a Lead Author for the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC. Jon is co-lead investigator on this project, along with Professor Ruth Fincher from the Geography program at the University of Melbourne, and Dr Anna Hurlimann, who is a Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning at Melbourne University.
12noon-1pm, Thursday 24 May
Brotherhood of St Laurence, 67 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy in Father Tucker’s Room
>>RSVP to attend this event here
Image from the Implementation Plan summary
The Living Melbourne, Living Victoria Roadmap was released in March 2011. It outlined the recommended priorities for reform to support achievement of the Government’s objectives for urban water. The newly released Living Melbourne Living Victoria Implementation Plan outlines the [Ministerial Advisory Council] MAC’s final recommendations for changes needed to the urban water system to achieve a more sustainable, liveable Melbourne and Victoria.
From “Sense breaks through water debate” by Carolyn Boyd:
[A] new report in Victoria finds this: “the current system does not adequately support the use of alternative water sources (e.g. rainwater and storm water) for non-drinking needs”.
Among a raft of other suggestions, the findings push for stronger building controls to catch stormwater at its source and store it – in some cases in rainwater tanks at properties, and in others in storage tanks big enough for a whole urban precinct. When we have situations where more storm water flows out of a city each year than the city consumes (as is the case in Melbourne), it does seem crazy not to be tapping into the stuff as it falls from the sky.
The strategy aims to reduce the demand for mains water by using stormwater for non-drinking functions such as flushing toilets and washing clothes, and continues to support greater water efficiency in homes through low-use appliances and tap fittings.
The report suggests improved standards should apply to all new and significantly renovated buildings in Victoria. The report models the outcomes of capturing more storm water and provides some interesting insights. One of the scenarios uses a combination of enhanced household water efficiency and rainwater tanks to provide water for toilets, laundry and gardens. In this scenario, mains water was assumed to be used for personal washing and in the kitchen.
The modelling estimated these changes would cut potable water demand by 24 per cent, and lead to a 9 per cent drop in stormwater runoff and an 11 per cent fall in the amount of wastewater being discharged across greater Melbourne by 2050.
In another scenario, domestic rainwater was used for hot water and laundry, while storm water was collected and stored at a precinct or suburb-level, and supplied to households for toilet flushing and gardens. The modelling shows the above would deliver a 38 per cent cut in mains water demand, an 11 per cent drop ?in stormwater runoff and a 32 per cent fall in the wastewater being discharged across greater Melbourne by 2050.
Putting the argument for better water collection in residences, the report noted that larger infrastructure, such as dams and desal plants had a “lumpy, long lead time” and run “much higher risks of saddling customers and/or taxpayers with excessive or unneeded investment” – as many residents across Australia are arguing they are now finding with various desalination plants.
Read the full article by Carolyn Boyd, or read more about Living Melbourne, Living Victoria.
|23 April , 2012|
|5:30 pm||to||6:30 pm|
Environmental organisations, governments and businesses often rely on “positive spillover strategies” to drive pro-environmental behaviour change.
These strategies rest on the assumption that targeting simple and painless actions can spillover into motivating other related and more ambitious environmental behaviours. But such endeavours might also lead to “negative spillover effects”, where the adoption of one particular pro-environmental behaviour decreases the prospects of other related actions being performed.
In this seminar, one of the world’s leading experts on this topic—Professor John Thøgersen—will give an introduction to spillover, discuss evidence supporting and challenging spillover effects, and offer a number of tips to optimise the chances of achieving positive spillover effects in behaviour change programs.
About the speaker: John Thøgersen is a professor of economic psychology at Aarhus University, Denmark. In addition to spillover, his research interests include social and environmental marketing, social and moral norms in the environmental field, media influences on consumer behaviour and sustainability, and the inter-generational transfer of pro-environmental values, attitudes and behaviour.
John Thøgersen is being hosted by BehaviourWorks Australia—a joint venture between the Monash Sustainability Institute, EPA Victoria, The Shannon Company and Sustainability Victoria that brings together interdisciplinary researchers with leading practitioners who share an interest in behaviour change research and environmental sustainability.
Monday, 23 April 2012 5.30 – 6.30 pm
Village Roadshow Theatrette State Library of Victoria
Entry 3, 179 La Trobe Street Melbourne
This is a free public event. All welcome
@monash.edu by 18 April 2012
From What Australia can learn from the world’s best de-carbonisation policies by John Wiseman and Taegen Edwards
Around the world an increasing number of detailed policy road maps are demonstrating the possibility, necessity and urgency of a rapid transition to a just and sustainable post carbon future. The key barriers to this transition are social and political, not technological and financial.
The Post Carbon Pathways report, published by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne and the Centre for Policy Development has reviewed 18 of the most comprehensive and rigorous post carbon economy transition strategies. As Australia enters the next phase of the climate change policy debate, this report will provide vital information on how other jurisdictions are designing and implementing large-scale plans to remove carbon from their economies. The review focuses on transition road maps produced by governments with the strongest emissions reduction targets, such as Germany, Denmark and the UK. It also looks at the most comprehensive and influential non-government authored strategies such as Zero Carbon Britain, Zero Carbon Australia and World in Transition (German Advisory Council on Global Change). Our analysis of these diverse ways of reaching a post-carbon future highlights several key lessons.
The window is closing fast
A wide range of detailed national and global level strategies demonstrate the technological and economic feasibility of rapidly moving to a post carbon economy. This goal can still be achieved at the scale and speed required to significantly reduce the risk of runaway climate change. But the gateway for effective action is rapidly closing. Decisive action in the next five to ten years will be critical. There is a crucial difference between transition strategies that advocate a pragmatic and evolutionary approach and those that advocate more rapid and transformational change. [...]
Technology is not the most significant barrier
Analysis of these strategies shows that technological barriers are not the most significant obstacles to a fair and swift transition to a post carbon economy. The integrated suite of technological and systemic changes needed to reach a just and sustainable post carbon future will clearly need to include:
- rapid reductions in energy consumption and improvements in energy efficiency
- rapid replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy
- significant investment in forests and sustainable agriculture to draw down and sequester carbon into sustainable carbon sinks.
We already have the technologies to achieve emission reductions at the required speed and scale. Soaring investment in technological innovation, particularly in the United States, China and Germany, is driving down the price of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at a remarkable speed.
Financial and economic barriers: significant but not insurmountable
The economic and social costs of failing to take action to reduce emissions are becoming increasingly clear – as are the multiple employment, health and environmental co-benefits of a swift transition to a post carbon economy. Most strategies advocate a mix of market based and regulatory mechanisms, underpinned by clear long-term emissions reduction targets. Some authors however remain cautious of relying too much on carbon pricing. They recommend additional, more direct interventions such as:
- binding renewable energy targets
- feed-in tariffs
- eliminating fossil fuel subsidies
- allocating the funds to close fossil fuel power stations.
Strategies with emissions reduction targets that are more strongly informed by climate science also commonly advocate a significant shift towards economic priorities which focus on improving social and ecological wellbeing rather than unconstrained growth in material consumption. [...]
There is no solution to climate change without climate justice
Intergenerational justice – the need to respect and protect the livelihoods and opportunities of future generations – remains the most powerful ethical justification for taking prudent and decisive climate change action now. There is also widespread recognition that political support for a rapid transition to a post carbon economy depends on implementing policies to overcome key social equity challenges – within and beyond national borders.
The key barriers are social and political
The biggest barriers preventing a rapid transition to a post carbon future are social and political – not technological and financial. The difficulty of securing and sustaining broad social and political support is widely recognised as the greatest barrier to a swift transition to a post carbon economy. The most significant gap in post carbon economy transition strategies is a lack of detailed game plans for mobilising political leadership and public support. Worryingly, even the most optimistic of the social change theories underpinning these strategies, tend to rely on a variety of ‘Pearl Harbor’ scenarios in which one or more catastrophic ecological events would provide the necessary wake up call. [...] The development and communication of inspiring stories and compelling images of a just and sustainable post carbon future will be particularly crucial.
Australia’s post carbon pathway leadership challenge
The Australian Government’s 2020 emissions reduction target (a 5% decrease on 2000 levels) is clearly still far from the level required for Australia to make a responsible and fair contribution to global emissions reductions. Australia’s 2050 target (an 80% decrease on 2000 levels) is more robust. But there is no detail as yet as to how this target will be achieved. Evidence from the most promising transition strategies elsewhere suggests we need a more informed and thoughtful debate about the kind of economic growth and industry mix that Australia should aim for. We need to talk about the fairest approaches to mobilising the required levels of financial, human and social capital. Most importantly, a far more visionary level of political leadership will be required in order to drive an Australian climate change debate informed primarily by climate science rather than short-term calculations of political and economic feasibility. [...]
Read the article in full on The Conversation.
Read the Post Carbon Pathways briefing paper, summary report or full report.
Image from: CDP Cities
CDP Cities is a voluntary reporting platform for cities around the world to document their actions on climate change. An initiative of the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP Cities have produced this neat infographic compiling data from the 48 participating cities in 2011. Melbourne features in the section on individual cities, citing ‘creating urban and rooftop gardens, lighter buildings, and lightening roof and road colours to lessen urban heat island effect’ as actions being taken by the City council.