A review of international low carbon precincts to identify pathways for mainstreaming sustainable urbanism in Australia
Abstract: Urban environments, once built, are slow to change, therefore the neighbourhoods we build today, will ideally be designed to meet our future needs. The combined challenges of climate change, population growth and finite resources demand we rapidly decarbonise our cities. Failing to provide the necessary infrastructure to decarbonise Australian cities today will place a social, environmental and economic burden upon future generations of Australian society. At a high strategic level this imperative is acknowledged but in practice government planning agencies have typically placed greater emphasis upon maintaining land supply and housing affordability over effectively fostering a culture of sustainable urbanism. The absence of a strong sustainability culture within the built environment sector, has seen barriers, such as the ‘sustainability cost premium’ and the political ‘short termism’ of a three year electoral cycle, impede more rapid transition to a widespread culture of sustainable urbanism practice. This paper describes six international ‘low carbon precinct’ case studies to show how they were able to overcome some of these barriers. The case studies employ a diverse range of strategies including demonstration project trials, integrated eco-services, and innovative funding models to deliver low carbon precincts. It shows how political, skill and market barriers can be overcome through the use of different delivery models, and how these models may provide useful lessons to help develop pathways to decarbonise urban development in Australian cities.