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“The way cities are planned, built and function can promote more efficient use of resources, including water, energy and land, minimise the production of waste and encourage more reuse and recycling, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support biodiversity in and around urban areas through better management of open and green space.” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010 pp. 3) This quote, from the 2010 State of the Cities Report, advances the Australian government view that urban design and planning are important factors towards achieving sustainable outcomes. The current policy position can be traced back to the United Nations (UN) World Commission on Environment and Development’s seminal 1987 document “Our Common Future: The Brundtland Report” (Brundtland Commission, 1987). The Brundtland Report was the first far-reaching UN report of its type to consider the impacts of global development on the environmental health of the Planet. It also introduced the concept of sustainable development, defined as the “social and economic advance to ensure human beings a healthy and productive life, but one that did not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Centre for a World in Balance, 2010). The Report was a trigger for government agencies around the world, including Australia, to move away from a period of uncoordinated and parochial urban planning policies to reassert support for environmental planning objectives (Gleeson, Darbas et al 2004; Anderson, Dobson et al 2006). Using Australia’s largest city, Sydney, as a case study, our research utilises and maps an urban form typology relevant to Australian cities before applying household behaviour indices to compare the relative sustainability merits of different urban form types. This paper will outline the methodology being used for this research before presenting some preliminary findings from the secondary data collected and analysed so far.

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